U-turn from a car
Motorcycle accidents that involve a car or van driver who have attempted a U-turn in the road, in effect blocking a motorcyclist’s path, can be very dangerous for bike riders.
How to avoid a U-turn accident
On high-speed multilane roads or dual carriageways with turning areas, motorcyclists need to be extremely cautious where there is the possibility of a vehicle making a U-turn. By simply reading the road ahead of you, riders can avoid being involved in this kind of accident.
In some cases, a driver may have pulled over as far to the left-hand side of the road as possible to provide enough space to complete a U-turn. This may give the impression to other road users that they are pulling over or turning left. If the driver is not properly indicating or using their mirrors in the correct manner, an approaching rider, who is preparing to overtake the slower moving vehicle at the side of the road, may have a nasty accident as the driver pulls out sharply to the right, into the path of the overtaking motorcyclist.
What’s the law on U-turns?
Performing a U-turn is legal in the UK but it’s important that road users are aware of others when performing the manoeuvre, especially vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists. Note that a U-turn could be deemed illegal if there is a ‘no U-turn' sign displayed.
An update to the Highway Code in January 2022 recognises that motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable. The concept of the hierarchy of road users recognises that “those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others.” This places the onus on drivers, when performing manoeuvres like U-turns, to be aware of more vulnerable road users.
Further guidance on U-turns is given in Rule 200 of The Highway Code, which states that road users should find an appropriate place when turning. They say: “If you need to turn your vehicle around, wait until you find a safe place. Try not to reverse or turn round in a busy road; find a quiet side road or drive round a block of side streets.”
Case law on U-turns
The experts behind Biker SOS were instrumental in guiding the law used in these types of cases today, when Fletchers Solicitors, part of Fletchers Group, were instructed in the case of Beasley v Alexander (2012). It’s important to remember that every case is different and that the circumstances of a case are unique to that particular case.
Beasley v Alexander (2012)
In May 2009, Mr Alexander, was driving his car towards Nottingham when he became stuck in a queue of traffic and decided to return home. Mr Alexander decided to use a farm track on the opposite side of the road to turn around. As he pulled out towards the track, the car collided with a motorcycle ridden by My Beasley, who was overtaking the line of traffic Mr Alexander had been stuck in.
The motorcyclist was thrown from his bike and over the car, with the impact causing Mr Beasley’s helmet strap to break, resulting in the helmet coming off. My Beasley suffered serious injuries including brain injuries. Road traffic experts put Mr Beasley’s speed at between 40 to 50mph.
In terms of liability, it was to be decided whether Mr Alexander was negligent in pulling into the path of Mr Beasley and whether Mr Beasley contributed to the accident due to the speed he was travelling at.
It was concluded that had the motorcyclist been travelling at a safe speed of 35mph, there would have still been an accident resulting in serious injury, and so the car driver was 100% to blame.
When overtaking a line of traffic, it’s always a good idea to position yourself where you can take evasive action and be seen by the vehicles you are overtaking (ideally in their mirrors as you approach).
When approaching a junction where a vehicle could be pulling out, you may want to slow down and prepare for vehicles turning into you that may not look your way.
At Trial, most judges assess the speed of the motorcyclist and produce their judgement based on the speed /road/conditions. So, keep to a pace that is comfortable and where you could slow down easily should the worst happen. Try not to assume the speed limit is a reasonable speed to travel when filtering.
It’s better to be prepared! Vehicles sat in traffic often make the assumption that there won’t be motorcycles filtering, so don’t look before they set off. If you are not sure as you approach a junction, make use of your horn to let people know you are there with a friendly toot!
How do solicitors fight a motorbike U-turn case?
Because a U-turn is a particularly high-risk manoeuvre, in a legal case, the driver may try to deny that they were performing a U-turn at all. They might argue that they were simply turning into a side street instead. In scenarios like this, witness statements can be crucial in helping to determine what really happened.
Speed often plays a part in cases like this, but as shown in the Beasley v Alexander case, the speed of the biker cannot always be used against them, and it will be decided on a case-by-case basis whether the speed had a material effect on the outcome. In accidents like this, choosing a solicitor who specialises in motorbike claims will mean you have years of expertise on your side.
Why Biker SOS?
Our legal experts handled 1 in 6 motorbike claims in the last 5 years alone – making us the largest specialist provider in the country.
We’ve handled hundreds of cases like yours and we’re passionate about fighting for the rights of vulnerable riders. Our expert team will fight your corner and secure the compensation you deserve, supporting you throughout your claim, as well as your rehabilitation and recovery.
No Win No Fee
We understand the devastating impact a motorcycle accident can have on your life and the financial pressures it can bring, so we handle your claim on a No Win No Fee basis, meaning you won’t pay anything upfront to start your claim.