Why cars making left turns are so dangerous to pedestrians

New York City's Vision Zero initiative is zeroing in one of the most disturbing statistics when it comes to pedestrian safety: a vehicle making a left-hand turn is three times more likely to injure pedestrians and cyclists than one making a right-hand turn.

City officials unveiled an education campaign to urge drivers to slow down and take greater care, especially when making left-hand turns.

Since 2016, vehicles making left turns have killed at least 70 people in New York City, including Raul Ampuero's son Giovanni. Last year, the 9-year-old was crossing an intersection holding his mother's hand when he was killed by a car making a left-hand turn that failed to yield to pedestrians. 

"His last words were 'Don't let me go mom, I love you mommy and I love daddy,'" Ampuero said. "That kills me every day."

Left-hand turns are particularly dangerous since drivers tend to take the turn at higher speeds despite it being, technically, a more difficult a turn than right-hand turns. And the car's A-frame on the left side of the windshield obscures the driver's field of vision, especially when it comes to smaller pedestrians and children.

The Vision Zero plan is working. Vehicle-related deaths have dropped dramatically since 2013, the year before Mayor Bill be Blasio launched the initiative, when 300 people died. In 2018, that number dropped to 200.