If you’ve ever driven, anywhere, you know there are two types of drivers in this world; those who know what the turn signal is, and those who do not. You see, in your car, there is a little stick, usually to the left, kind of behind the steering wheel. No, it’s not that one. That one cleans your windows. Yep, there it is. That stick is connected to the turn signals on your vehicle, or little blinking lights on either side of the car in the front and the back. Okay, I’m being a little bit of a smart mouth here, but do you get it?
An estimated two million accidents are caused each year as a result of people failing to use their turn signals. It’s so easy, yet 48% of drivers aren’t using them. The car, like the Toyota Camry pictured above, makes it pretty simple too, they’re in an easy to access location and nine times out of ten, they shut off on their own. So why is it so hard, and why aren’t people using them? Well, for one thing, we are really lazy when it comes to driving now. The least effort we have to expend, the better. Unfortunately, accidents keep happening, and people keep getting unnecessarily hurt.
Giving drivers the benefit of the doubt, we will assume that most people don’t know the lesser known rules about turn signal usage, and therefore they are not using them. There are actually several different instances during which drivers are supposed to use these signals, so let’s cover them now.
- When Making Turns – Okay, this one is kind of a gimme. Yes, the turn signal is there for your personal use when you are making a turn into something. This could mean a turn from the main road onto another street, into a parking lot, or into a parking SPACE. A turn from a straightaway without the use of a signal is not only annoying, but it’s incredibly dangerous. It makes it incredibly easy to get rear-ended, but it also leaves people walking in the dark about where you’re headed.
- When Changing Lanes – This is one of the most confusing times for people. Yes, you have to put your turn signal on when you’re moving from one lane to the next one over. Whether you’re on the highway, or just a local two lane road, if you plan to leave the lane, signal your intentions. Not using the turn signal on a busy highway is incredibly risky behavior, as people are traveling at high rates of speed and things can get a little dicey when traffic is involved.
- In The Turning Lane – I get it, you’re in the designated lane with a giant arrow painted on it that communicates your desires, but you still have to use it. Admittedly, this is the easiest one to not follow, as you think it’s pretty obvious, but keep in mind there may be people in that lane by accident, people that are new to the area, or pedestrians crossing the street that don’t know what you’re planning. We’ve all seen the person that changes their mind in the middle of a light about where they’re headed and just plow right on ahead, so eliminate the confusion and just use the signal.
- When Parking – This is of the utmost importance when you’re parallel parking, as you’ll, literally, be stopping traffic for several moments, not to mention the fact that you’ll be throwing the car into reverse at some point. This is enough to cause bedlam on the roads, as people will start to panic that you’re going to back up into them, or that you may just abandon your car in the middle of the lane while you run to the ATM. A quick flick of the turn signal will indicate exactly what you plan to do, and they’ll stay out of your way.
The whole turn signal debate may seem like a petty topic that gets brought up, by passengers in your car, simply because they don’t like your driving, the turn signal thing is actually a law. It’s also imperative that you make sure your turn signals and other lighting are working too. Drivers are required, by law, to signal their intentions in each of the aforementioned situations or run the risk of being pulled over by a particularly cranky officer. Some traffic officers have been known to have quite the pet peeve for turn signal offenders, and you never know when they’re looking for you.