In 2012, the Society of Automotive Engineers did a study that observed 12,000 drivers and their turning habits. Not only did they discover that almost half of those drivers failed to use their turn signal before changing lanes but they also found out that “this neglect causes more crashes than distracted driving.”
Using your blinker gives other drivers time to react to your decision.
While it may sound obvious, the primary reason drivers should use their turn signal is to let other drivers know they are changing lanes or turning. If you are driving along and you know that your next move involves a turn, lane switch, or getting off at an exit, you need to signal well before you make the actual move. The driver behind you has no knowledge of your decision, therefore they do not know you will also be slowing down. So instead of breaking in response to your turn signal, they are forced to brake in response to your change in speed. This doesn’t give them very much time to adjust, and while some drivers are good at making on-the-dime decisions, many are not. The result is, more often than not, accidents that could have been prevented with a simple flick of a turn signal.
Not signaling before a turn may be an indication of an even deeper problem.
Are you constantly getting honked at when you change lanes? Are cars always right on your tail as you make a turn? Do you fail to use your turn signal at least 100 feet before you turn? Maybe there’s a reason why. If you’re constantly failing to signal or forgetting to signal, ask yourself if you fit one of these two profiles:
- The distracted driver: Do you typically drive while you do something else, such as navigate, video chat, text, or apply makeup? Perhaps you fail to use your turn signal because your focus isn’t on the road. When you are behind the wheel, make sure you’re all there. Your phone can wait. Passing something to the kids can wait. You should not be driving and doing something else. If you can’t be all in and commit your full attention to the road, pull over. You may think you can multitask, but you shouldn’t force other drivers to take that gamble with you.
- The spontaneous driver: Do you hop in a car and instantly relax? Perhaps you fail to signal because you take the road as it comes instead of taking control of the road. When you are in the driver’s seat, make sure you look ahead and plan ahead. Anticipate making a turn and signal others that that is what you are about to do. If you don’t exercise any forethought on the road, you endanger yourself and others. The road is no place to be spontaneous or laid back. Driving is more than a series of motions. Your brain has to be alert and active. Think about your next move, and your actions will follow suit.