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Study Finds Left-Hand Turns Are More Dangerous Than We Think

NEW YORK (CBS) -- A study done by New York City Department of Transportation found left-hand turns to be significantly more dangerous than right hand turns.

And the people being put in harm's way are not drivers but runners, bike riders and as it turns out senior citizens.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2014, 4,884 pedestrians and 726 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in across the county.

In 2016, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio made reducing these types of accidents a priority in his state and advances their Vision Zero initiative to eliminate all traffic deaths and serious injuries.

The city of Philadelphia has also had its fair share of pedestrian accidents. According to NHTSA, 100 people are killed in road crashes in Philadelphia every year and are the leading cause of death for 15-24-year-olds in Pennsylvania.

NYC DOT's report, "Don't Cut Corners," finds that pedestrians and bike riders are killed or severely injured by a left-turning vehicles three times the rate of those hit by a right-turning vehicle.

Of that group, it appears seniors are struck more often since 67 is the median age of people involved in left-turn accidents, compared to age 50 for right-turn accidents.

Even more alarming is the fact that more of these crashes occurred at intersections with crossing signals or when turning off of a one-way street.

The study also cites a blocked visibility and a wider turning radius that can make left turns trickier for drivers of all ages.

The good news is that fatality and injury rates are getting better at intersections that have added mechanisms like left-turn only signals and protected bike lanes.

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