Please Use Turn Signals!
"People who are going places use turn signals!"
California Vehicle Code Section 22107: Turning Movements and Required Signals.
California Vehicle Code Section 22108: Duration of Signal.
California Vehicle Code Section 24951: Turn Signal System.
California Vehicle Code Section 24953: Turn Signal Lamps.
California Vehicle Code Section 25251: Permitted Flashing Lamps.
The California Legislature has determined that driving is a privilege, not a right. As such, drivers must follow the rules and guidelines that have been enacted into law. One of these rules (since the late 1950s) is the use of turn signals to indicate your intention to make a movement on the road, street or highway. It's only fair to let other drivers know what you would like to do. (The situation is virtually the same in all other states and commonwealths, although the code sections are different, of course.)
One could argue that if there are no other cars on the road, you should be free to do whatever you want without using any signals. But how many times have you heard someone say, "I didn't see the other car," just after an accident occurred? The California Driver Handbook agrees: "Signal even when you don't see any vehicles around you. The vehicle you don't see might hit you."
Note that Section 22107 uses the phrase "in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement." This can mean that if there are no other cars on the road at 3 a.m., you don't have to use your turn signals. Does it also mean that you don't have to use your brake lights if there is nobody behind you at 3 a.m.?
It would seem that a prudent driver would use his/her turn signals at all times, regardless of the time of day or traffic conditions, just like a prudent driver would drive safely at all times, regardless of whether any other drivers are around or whether the police are watching.
After you signal your intention, you are not automatically entitled to make the maneuver. It's necessary to be sure that the place you intend to go is not already occupied. (A good example of this can be found on the Highway 17 Page of Shame in this picture of a previous "Jerque du Jour" winner.) Make sure it's clear before you move.
Many observant drivers are willing to let other drivers "in" if they signal their intention. Many drivers will even slow down a little and wave at someone to "go ahead" in response to a turn signal.
And don't forget pedestrians. Many drivers, when walking, are willing to "give" a little if they know what you're going to do. For example: if I know that a certain car is going to turn left, I might wait until they go by before stepping off the curb. (Thanks, P.P.)
Zipping from lane to lane without using turn signals is one of the causes of traffic accidents. It is also one of the causes of highway violence. What starts with harsh words or "the finger" sometimes escalates to the use of weapons. It seems hard to believe that someone would kill another driver because of being "cut off," but it happens far too often.
Your comments can be posted on the P.U.T.S. Comments Page. Please advise in your message if it's permissible to (a) post your comments, (b) post your name, and (c) post your e-mail address. August 12, 2002
Help support highway safety! Please Use Turn Signals!
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Created on April 3, 1996. Last updated on August 12, 2002.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA