Why are Turn Signals So Important?

Posted on: June 8, 2021

Turn signals are the best way for motorists to let other drivers know that they are planning to turn, change lanes, or perform some other maneuver that may affect the drivers and other road users around them. Turn signal use may be shrugged off as a mere courtesy, but when drivers neglect to communicate their intentions serious car accidents and personal injury can result.

When are Turn Signals Supposed to be Used?

Turn signals should be used to indicate an intention to turn, change lanes, merge into traffic, exit a roadway, or park. Using a turn signal communicates to other drivers that they may need to react, as the traffic pattern may be about to change or that the driver ahead is planning to slow down or even stop.

Turn signals are used when passing other cars, first to change into the passing lane and then to return to the original lane ahead of the car that was passed. Drivers should always pass on the left.

Drivers should use their turn signals when approaching an intersection or exit they plan to take. Turning requires the driver to slow down, which affects the flow of traffic behind them. Giving warning provides time for those cars to slow down to give the turning car enough time and space to make their turn without risking an accident.

Turn signals also help drivers to park safely. Signaling when parking and when pulling out of a parking spot allows other drivers to understand what is happening and to react accordingly. Pulling into a driveway or parking spot is similar to turning at an intersection where cars following behind should be warned about the intentions.

Parallel parking on the street is somewhat different. A driver who is planning to park along the curb will need time to align their vehicle into position in order to put the car in reverse to move into the parking spot. This maneuver takes time and is likely to hold up traffic, which can be frustrating and nerve-racking. Using a turn signal can smooth the process for everyone involved.

As mentioned, turn signals are necessary when pulling into and out of spots in a parking lot and around the lanes and perimeter of the lot, just as they are out on the roads. Many accidents in parking lots are caused by drivers not signaling.

How Does Using a Turn Signal Help Other Drivers?

Experienced drivers notice a turn signal immediately and effortlessly translate the message and become aware of a change in another drivers actions. They are then able to adjust their own driving to the circumstances by slowing down and providing the other driver with enough space to safely execute their intended move. A driver with this information can use the warning to change lanes themselves, slow down, or stop in time to avoid an accident. 

How Do Drivers Misuse Turn Signals?

The most common mistakes drivers make with regard to the use of turn signals include these behaviors:

  • Not using them. Drivers who disregard the importance of signaling risk creating a dangerous situation.
  • Turning them on too late. Drivers should engage their turn signal at least 100 feet from a turn to give other road users adequate notice.
  • Leaving them on too long. Forgetting to turn off the signal after a lane change can cause dangerous confusion that can lead to an accident.

Is Failing to Use a Turn Signal Illegal?

Every state has a law requiring the use of turn signals when turning or changing lanes, among other circumstances. Drivers can receive a ticket if they fail to use a turn signal to notify nearby drivers before turning, changing lanes, merging, or exiting at an off-ramp. Although the fines for not using a turn signal may not be overly costly, the violation may be used as a reason for insurance rates to be increased. Of course, the cost of causing an accident can be much more serious. 

What Technologies are Available to Help Drivers with Their Turn Signals?

The problem of drivers who leave their signals on too long can be addressed with a smart turn signal technology that automatically turns off the turn signal after a certain amount of time or using sensors to detect when the driver has completed a lane change. 

What Happens When Turn Signals Do Not Work Properly?

Although driving behavior causes far too many turn signal-related accidents, turn signals that malfunction are also a problem. To drive safely, drivers must keep up their cars maintenance. This includes ensuring that turn signals are in proper working order. A blown bulb is an easy fix, but the wiring and electrical system must be kept up in order to ensure that turn signals can be counted on.

What is the Best Way to Ensure Proper Turn Signal Use?

The best advice for drivers who want to use their turn signals to keep themselves and other road users safe is to make it a habit. Consistent use of turn signals, even when no other cars are in sight, is the best way to reinforce the habit.

How Do I Prove Liability in an Accident Caused by Failure to Use a Turn Signal?

Without witness testimony, video evidence, or an admission of guilt on the part of the other driver, it can be difficult to prove that the at-fault driver failed to use their turn signal and that such negligence led to the accident. At the same time, the unverifiable nature of the accusation could lead the other driver to claim that they were being followed too closely and they were rear-ended without warning, turning the tables on who was the victim of whose negligence.

What are Possible Damages of a Car Accident Caused by Improper Use of a Turn Signal?

Accidents can cause several types of damages that are valid cause for compensation. Some of the most common types of damages include the following:

  • Property damage
  • Medical costs
  • Loss of income
  • Loss of earning potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Wrongful death

Hazlet Car Accident Lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova Represent Clients Who Have Been Hurt by Drivers Who Neglected to Properly Use Their Turn Signals

If you were hurt in an accident that occurred because another driver neglected to use their turn signal, you should be able to collect compensation for the injuries you suffered as a result of their negligence. You should be able to collect damages for any medical costs you incurred from the accident as well as any lost income you may have suffered while recovering. The Hazlet car accident lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova have the resources to help you prove your claim. Call us at 732-705-3363 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Hazlet and Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in Ocean County and Sussex County, and Pennsylvania.