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Have you ever heard of a “sucker hole” accident?

We see all kinds of accidents in our personal injury practice. The typical ones are “rear-enders” or “T-bones” where someone runs a stop sign or red light. Then there’s the “sucker hole” accident. I can’t take credit for coining the phrase but I heard it first from an insurance adjuster relative to a case I had where my client crashed into someone driving through the “sucker hole.” This is an avoidable accident that could land a person in the hospital with a serious injury. Let’s take U.S. Highway 19 in Pinellas County as an example. Depending upon where you are, U.S. Highway 19 usually has four lanes of traffic headed in each direction with the far right lane sometimes designated as a right turn only lane. During rush hour when the three northbound through lanes are backed up, very often a southbound vehicle will attempt to make a left turn across the three northbound lanes of traffic. Usually, the northbound cars are stopped due to heavy traffic and allow the left turning car to go across the lanes via the “sucker hole.” The problem with this is that the fourth lane (right turn only lane) usually is not backed up and the traffic is moving swiftly in that lane. Because the turning car’s driver’s vision of the fourth lane is blocked by the traffic in the third lane, it is very difficult for the turning car’s driver to determine if there is traffic coming in the fourth lane. So, many times, the turning car will attempt to cross the fourth lane blindly and end up getting T-boned by an oncoming car. The turning car’s driver will normally be cited with a traffic citation for violating the right-of-way of the oncoming vehicle. Because of the speed of the oncoming vehicle, these accidents tend to result in serious injuries such as, back and neck injuries, fractured bones, herniated discs, shoulder or rotator cuff injuries, closed head injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.

To avoid this type of accident, the vehicles driving in the right turn only lane should proceed with caution and slow down, and try to keep a look out for the front of a vehicle peaking out from the third lane. Also, the turning vehicles should not cross traffic during this time of day. Rather, it would be safer to make a left at intersection that is controlled by traffic lights and make a left or legal U-turn.

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