Use Your Turn Signals, People!

Turn signal
Stop being lazy and start using your turn signal. That's the message of a new study that found that drivers who neglect to use turn signals cause more accidents than distracted drivers.

The Society of Automotive Engineers say that drivers who don't use their turn signals or fail to turn them off are a real problem and the result is about 2 million crashes each year, reports MSNBC. In contrast, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that distracted driving causes around 950,000 accidents annually.

SAE and study partner RLP Engineering say their investigation is the first of its kind and yielded alarming results: Motorists don't signal when changing lanes or forget to turn off the signal 48% of the time. Although turn signals are easy to use and effective, some people don't signal out of choice, but Richard Ponziani, president of RLP Engineering thinks "all drivers have an ongoing duty to use it, just as they have a duty to stop at a stop sign or at a red light."

One possible solution, according to the study, is implementing a smart turn signal system that would automatically shut off a turn signal after a set delay time or after it senses that the lane change is complete. It also could act as a visual or auditory reminder for people who habitually neglect to use them.

The technology would be "the perfect complement to the stability control system since stability control predominately prevents single-vehicle crashes, whereas the smart turn signal prevents multivehicle crashes," Ponziani said in the report.

Tell us, do you signal before you turn, and if not, why?

Turn signal neglect a real danger, study shows (MSNBC)

By Jennifer Geiger | May 3, 2012 | Comments (28)



How about the US catch up to the rest of the world, and we require that turn signals be amber?
Red turn signals are 50 years out of date.


George, I don't even think it's not even about the color of the signals. People just don't use them at all. For example, even if a person was to get confused by flashing brake lights, it would be no different than a flashing turn signal. It means pay attention, this driver is about to do something other than drive forward. Here in Baltimore, people act like they don't have them at all. Sometimes I just think they don't even know where they're going.


George, I completely agree. Cars in the US are bigger and travel higher MPH than most other countries yet the US hasn't mandated amber signals.

The worst are cars that have the turn signal integrated into the brake lights.

I will not buy a car with red rear signals unless there is a factory or aftermarket alternative.


I don't think a timed shut off would be a very good idea. There is a stop light in my town that stays green for only a short time. If you are the sixth car back or so, it might be two or three cycles before you get through. A timed shut off could turn your signal off before you make your turn.

Allistar Evans

I agree with kevin, albeit less bluntly. Many drivers do not turn their signals on when making a turn. That is dangerous and drivers who do this think nothing wrong could happen. To a lesser extent, those that leave the turn signals on after making a turn are dangeorus as well. We need to implent some sort of shutoff feature so that a turn signal will stop blinking after a minute. Using your turn signals requires little effort, what justification is there in not using them? Your too lazy? Your too dumb? Regardless of which color the signal is or how heavy or how high a car sits, turn signals are universal.


I wonder when the last time someone got ticketed for not using a signal if it did not involve another infraction or an accident? Enforcement has dropped off immensely. When I was young it seems people were always being pulled over for that so it made you pretty regular about using them. I guess it's just the times and the police just have too much other stuff to worry about. But I think that is the only way to encourage use.

Fine, change the colors if it's proven to be better, but that doesn't solve the problem of people not using them in the first place.

Allistar Evans

I agree with you lance. Not using a turn signal needs to be ground for a police officer to hand you a citation. In some states, not wearing a seat belt is deemed worthy of a pull over, our government needs to serious consider adding not using turn signals to it.


Another related danger: People who start signaling as they begin to turn or exit. People--you're supposed to do this WELL BEFORE turning or exiting!


I second the not using turn signals should be a ticketed offense, thought it even was but never enforced. I think the problem is most people are just lazy about using them, as if it is hard. Many of the times when I see people not using them they are busy using their other hand for something like the phone or a drink. Argh! Seems the more high end the vehicle the less I see them used too. I don't see that many people forget to shut them off and comparatively this is much less of a concern. I remember jokes about some of the Buick's that had alarms for if the signal was left on for too long of a distance. It's a little hard for technology to take of the problem of people not using turn signals since by time a car could detect anything you are already late with them.


i'm willing to bet that there isn't a state/city in the country that doesn't have "not signaling intent to turn" as a reason to stop and ticket. It's just not enforced. Police just don't bother with it when it's right in front of them 100s of times a day.

The most stupid law is "lights on when using wipers". When was the last time you think a cop got out of his car in the rain to cite this one? Unenforced laws become jokes.


... and yet police hand out tickets for speeding one or two miles per hour above the limit every day...

Anonymous Coward

I agree with the above comments. Police are so focused on speed enforcement that they will ignore other infractions that are much more dangerous, like tailgating and failing to use a signal. Why not enforce all the rules of the road instead of only a couple?

Jordan L

While I agree that people who can't/don't siganl are idiots and should be ticketed, if you get in an accident becuase of someones improper use of signals you are just as incompetent. Drive defensivly, if someones coming toward you with a signal light on don't assume they will turn if you value your life. If your not willing to step out in front of an oncoming vehicle pulling your vehicle out is not a good idea either.


In my opinion, in addition to the safety issues, it's also a matter of courtesy and respect. Some people just don't care about other people's safety and comfort. Ironically though, most of those who don't give a damn to signal when turning would stick their heads out and yell or stick out the finger when others do that to them. I live in Switzerland, and here, people are simply educated in a way that they signal even when they don't see a car behind them, because the fact that you're not seeing anyone doesn't always mean that there is no one behind you. However, here, when someone sees an empty coke can on the street, they would pick it up and put it in the nearest trash can as well... so it's a matter of respect and sense of responsibility. When people start feeling that they have their part of responsibility for whatever is happening to their surrounding environment, the rest will just come naturally.


Failing to Signal IS a ticketable offense... my last roommate was a cop magnet while driving and got them all the time, usually with other infractions.

Bottom line: if you don't use your turn signal properly while driving, you are lazy, selfish, and have no consideration for your own safety or that of others. There is NO reason not to do it. It's a slight wrist movement. I mean it's RIGHT THERE for God's sake.


Allistar, learn the difference between your and you're. Otherwise we might think that you're too lazy or too stupid like you imply about drivers who fail to use their turn signals.


Well I guess I'll have to change names as funny guy above has hijacked mine.


Dang it! I keep posting in error.


The editors can identify your computer ip and see that you are using multiple names.


Amazing technology these days!

Allistar Evans

thanks for the grammatical error corrections WTF, boy hows that computer working out for you? duh! welcome to the twenty-first century moron.

Only book nerds insist on correcting grammatical or punctuaction errors. I was content in english, however, I do not confess as much joy as you do.


Editors, please block whoever is hijacking names.

Allistar Evans

If I am unable to master my own native language then it leads me to believe that I am unable to think critically. Which is true.


nice 2 see some US cars getting the '3 blink' turn signals, i've driven Optima, Fiesta, & Kia Rio that have it!


The colour of light emitted by vehicle lights is largely standardised by longstanding convention, first codified in the 1949 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic[1] and later specified in the 1968 United Nations Convention on Road Traffic.[2] Generally, but with some regional exceptions, lamps facing rearward must emit red light, lamps facing sideward and all turn signals must emit amber light, lamps facing frontward must emit white or selective yellow light, and no other colours are permitted except on emergency vehicles.

Roy Jenks

Turn signal laws are not enforced and seldom obeyed by the police, despite the evidence based research conducted by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The public knows there is little danger of them being ticketed. They are in a safe haven.

We are confronted with an epidemic. It is a legal, public administration, public health and ethical problem. It is not a low priority. The facts are on the table and we are in harms' way.


Rear signal light must Amber-yellow color


It is about time that television showed an advert telling drivers to use indicators properly

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