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When and How to Use Car Turn Signals (A Helpful Guide)

Updated on May 9, 2012

There are around 2 million auto accidents a year in the United States directly attributed to drivers neglecting to use their turn signals. That number is high enough to warrant a helpful "How To" guide to those drivers who are too lazy, too stupid, too careless and/or a dangerous cocktail of all of these to make that simple yet apparently complicated movement of their fingers to use their turn signals.

1. When Changing Lanes

Simply jumping from one lane to the next when a driver just feels like it is one major cause of accidents. Believe it or not, others have no way of knowing what thoughts are slowly moving through the stunted brains of such drivers. Maybe their hands are full: cell phones, 1 gallon size pop, hamburgers, ice cream etc. can get in the way of making that all important movement to use the turn signal. Also, using the turn signal for a split second once a driver has begun to make a lane change is probably not enough time to warm others of an intention to change lanes.

2. When Turning Into:

A parking lot, another street, a driveway, or anywhere else. Simply slowing down and making a turn with no signal can easily turn into an accident. The worst is when a driver is waiting to pull out onto a road and the only car coming is the one who will be turning in without using their turn signal. That is a blatant disregard for the person who is waiting to turn out or drive across a street. This happens all the time. Again, no one will magically know what the non turn signaling driver is intending to do. This can also be very dangerous to pedestrians on a sidewalk who are crossing a street. I have seen drivers make sudden turns right under the noses of pedestrians as they try to cross, and of course the drivers often don't bother signaling. One way to solve this problem would be to force automakers to build cars in a way that would only allow turn to be made if a turn signal is on, and only in the direction of the turn signal. There are many cop cars that don't use their signals either, and don't seem to do much when they see offenders with their own eyes.

3. When in a Turning Lane Only

Just because you are in a designated turning lane does not mean that you aren't required to use a turn signal. By law, you are. I have seen countless cars in designated turning lanes end up illegally driving straight, putting others in danger. Now I realize that paying attention to signaling can be cumbersome while you play with your Sirius Internet Radio looking for one more indie, country, hip-hop, or sports station, but it can be managed if you really pay close attention.

4. When Parallel Parking

Just slowing down and starting into a parallel park is not an option. Drivers need to use their right signal to let other drivers know that they want to at least attempt to parallel park, which will by no means be a forgone conclusion. But that is a topic for a different hub.

5. Turn Off Turn Signal When Not Turning

This can either happen because the driver is much to old to be behind the wheel or because the bass is on way too high and the driver cannot even hear the click click sound of the blinker. This is frustrating for everyone because now that a turn signal has actually been used (surprising in itself) others must now try to deduce whether it was left on by mistake, turned on much too late for a turn, and when and if a turn is actually going to be made.


Turn signals are meant to be used how the name implies: when turning. Not just during some turns, or during turns when you feel like being a great guy and actually using it, but during all turns. There need to be stronger laws against not signaling, especially as so many easily preventable accidents are caused by such negligence. The problem seems to be getting worse and worse.

Laziness and just simply not caring about other drivers makes many of them feel invincible in their metal boxes (the bigger the better). This has got to be one of the most frustrating issues on the road alongside speeding and drunk driving.


Are you annoyed by people who don't use turn signals?

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      3 years ago

      I disagree with, as you state, using your signal during your turns/lane changes/etc. You need to turn on the signal BEFORE the action, especially before slowing or braking, thus signalling others what you're going to do. Merely signalling during a turn is nothing more than decorating your turn!


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