Who is at Fault in a U-turn Motorcycle Accident?

Posted by George Tait | Jul 08, 2022 | 0 Comments


Cruising Along on Your Motorcycle

Let's assume you are cruising down the road on a beautiful day—just out cruising, you are not speeding, you are paying attention and you are wearing all your gear.  ATGATT brothers and sisters.  You are on a two-lane road—one lane northbound and one southbound—there are cars parked at the curb on both sides.  The speed limit is 30 mph and you are going about 25 mph. 

All of a sudden about 20 feet ahead of you a parked car to your right pulls out and makes a U-turn.  You are prepared and doing everything right—you brake hard and steer to your right.  You hit the car and are somersaulted over your handlebars landing hard on the pavement.

Motorcycle Reaction Time

The average reaction time, the time it takes for you to see the threat and react is anywhere from 0.7 to 1.3 seconds.  This time depends on some factors such as age and riding motorcycle riding experience.  Let's say, in the example above, it takes you 1 second to apply your brakes—front and rear brakes of course.

Motorcycle Braking Distance

Next you have to factor in the braking distance At 25 mph you travel about 37 feet.  In the above example you would not even have enough time to apply your brakes before hitting the car that attempted the U-turn in front of you!

Utah Law on U-turns

The law about U-turns in Utah is clear.

41-6a-802.  Turning around -- Where prohibited -- Visibility. 


As used in this section, "railroad grade crossing" means the area between the passive or active warning signs where a railroad track and roadway intersect.


The operator of a vehicle may not make a U-turn or turn the vehicle to proceed in the opposite direction:


unless the movement can be made safely and without interfering with other traffic;


on any curve, or upon the approach to, or near the crest of a grade, if the vehicle is not visible at a distance of 500 feet by the operator of any other vehicle approaching from either direction; and


on a railroad track or railroad grade crossing.


The bottom line is that the person making a U-turn has a very heavy burden.  They cannot make a U-turn unless “unless the movement can be made safely and without interfering with other traffic.”

Motorcycle Crash Damages

In this example, the person driving the car making the U-turn would be responsible for all of the damages they caused.  This includes property damage—to your motorcycle, your helmet, your battered cell phone, your laptop—whatever was damaged.  This includes of course injury to your person—broken leg, fractured wrist, surgery, rehabilitation, whatever the case.  You are also compensated for lost income while laid up and not working because of the crash.

I Just Didn't See the Motorcycle

People often say “I just didn't see the motorcycle.”  I know that conspicuity of motorcycles is a problem but, in my humble opinion, so is not looking or paying attention and wielding a 4,156-pound moving piece of metal. 

The biggest problem we see on the roads causing motorcycle crashes is cell phone use.  The use of cell phones, in my opinion, are the single most cause of people not paying attention—more on this in another blog.

Stay safe brothers and sisters—ATGATT!

Utah Bike Law is a motorcycle injury law firm and its lawyers who ride are dedicated to representing injured motorcycle riders and their families.  If you or a loved one were involved in a motorcycle crash anywhere in the United States we invite you to call for a free confidential consultation. There is no obligation and you are not charged any fees whatsoever unless we recover money for you.

About the Author

George Tait

Since 2004 George Tait has dedicated his practice to helping injured people and their families get fair and full compensation from the insurance companies. Before becoming an attorney George Tait was a Registered Nurse for over 15 years. The last years of his nursing career were in the Universit...


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