Back-to-school season is here, and that means more people are out and about in Boulder. And while we love how vibrant the city becomes this time of year, it’s also a time when we see higher rates of vehicle crashes, particularly those related to left turns.

According to the Safe Streets Boulder report, one of the most common causes of a severe crash in the city is a driver improperly making a left turn, typically not yielding to oncoming traffic or bicyclists and pedestrians in the crosswalk.

Remember that a flashing yellow left-turn arrow means use caution and yield to all traffic and crossing pedestrians and cyclists when turning left. The flashing yellow arrow does not mean oncoming traffic will stop.

Crashes also happen when turning left without a signal. Whether you have a flashing yellow arrow or are turning left at an unsignalized intersection, always follow these three steps to turn left safely:

  1. YIELD: Wait for a break in oncoming traffic.

  1. LOOK: Check the crosswalk and bike lane for pedestrians and bicyclists.

  1. TURN: Make your turn.

left turns tips

Taking an extra moment to look for pedestrians and bicyclists in the crosswalk saves lives.

"Those few seconds can mean the difference between a crash that causes serious injuries to someone and everyone being able to clear the intersection safely,” says Boulder Police Traffic Sargeant Robyn VanDerLeest. “It may seem small, but it’s so important.”

By practicing this and other safe travel behaviors like never driving distracted or impaired, you can help our community reach our Vision Zero goal of zero fatalities or serious injuries from traffic crashes in Boulder.

Watch a video about left-turn safety below and learn more about Vision Zero.