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United States & World

3 Rights Equal A Left: Mapping Safer Routes In New York City

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

A puzzle New York City is trying to solve is how to make its streets safer by reducing the number of left turns drivers make. Between frantic pedestrians, determined cabdrivers and daredevil bike messengers, Manhattan can be an obstacle course for even the most adept motorists. Left turns are among the most difficult and the most dangerous. In New York City, they're three times as likely to kill pedestrians. Now, two New York Council members are asking Google Maps to plot routes to reduce left turns. The computer would tell you to go right, then right and then right again. They figure that cutting down on the number of times a driver has to cut across several lanes of traffic will save lives. It could also give your brain a rest. A 2013 study in the Frontiers Human Neuroscience revealed that making a left-hand turn involves greater brain function than a right-hand turn. So far, Google hasn't responded to New York's request but the City Council is hoping their answer isn't forget about it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CROSSTOWN TRAFFIC")

JIMI HENDRIX: (Singing) You're just like crosstown traffic, so hard to get through to you. Crosstown traffic, I don't need to run over you. Cross town traffic, all you do is slow me down. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.