We’ve all experienced that dicey moment when a driver pulls out in front of us, without having given any indication of where they’ll be turning. Using your car turning signal is not only a safety function but also one of courtesy. With so many people who refuse to use this precautionary measure, it’s not surprising that many people wonder if indeed it is a legal requirement at all.
If you have a rental car booked this summer, or just want to know where you need to use your turn signal, here’s a breakdown on why you need to use it.
Is it a legal requirement for me to use it?
Yes! Not using your turn signal before moving left or right is illegal. If you’re wondering whether you happen to live in a state where it is not a legal requirement – you are out of luck. All states require drivers to use their turn signals.
The reason for this is that not using it can be incredibly dangerous. Of course, it may be possible to gauge which direction a car is turning thanks to their road position. This technique, however, should only be used as a precautionary measure in the absence of a turn signal. While you may hear many people talk about the good old days when you didn’t need a turn signal, or their friends and family barely used one, this is not an excuse for not obeying turn signal law.
Why is it so important?
Your car turning signal is a measure that could potentially save your life in future circumstances. This is because there are so many drivers on the road, all of which are at varying degrees of experience. Did you know, for example, there are just over 222 million drivers with a license in America? This figure is said to be twice the amount of drivers who were on the roads in the 70s. Moreover, it has been claimed that over half of American drivers are not using their turn signals. This increased volume of drivers makes it so important that you act courteously. This is because it’s not just cars on the road with you. You are also sharing the roads with cyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists.
It’s often said that we only see what we expect to see; this means that it can take a little longer for most people to spot a motorcyclist on the motorway, or a cyclist pulling out of a junction. Indicating gives them time to react to you so that if you do pull out, everyone is that little bit safer. Blind spots also make it that little bit more difficult for drivers to react in time to their surroundings, or spot motorist behind them. A signal could be the life-saving measure that prevents a vehicle from overtaking you as you make a turn.
When you are traveling at speed, your decisions suddenly have much more at stake. Turning on highways without a signal is risky for several reasons:
- You may not have spotted someone in your blind spot
- Other drivers need to know your actions before you make them
- Someone may take the risk and overtake on the assumption that you are not moving
- There is less time to react when you are traveling at higher speeds
All of these risks are mitigated and reduced when you take the time to use your turn signal. Not only are you keeping yourself safe on the highway, but also other drivers.
Time to think
Try putting it in this perspective: signaling before you move gives you time to think. Checking your mirrors, signaling, and turning gives you a considerably longer space to acknowledge your movements.
The DMV recommends leaving at least 100 feet to make your decision – ensuring you signal in plenty of time for other drivers to react. By just turning as and when you need to, less thought is being put into the maneuver. By thinking about your actions before you make them, you are considering other drivers, and importantly, their lives.
If you are renting a car in another state, and are wondering whether you can take the risk of not using your turning signals – don’t do it. Not only do you risk paying a damage or legal fine, but you could also be putting someone’s life in danger.
It is illegal not to use your turn signals, whichever vehicle you happen to be traveling in. Remember; take the time, turn on your signal and check your mirrors before you move.