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Failing to signal causes countless accidents

We’ve all experienced this kind of bad driving: a driver turns in front of you or merges into your lane unexpectedly without using their turn signal. It’s not just inconsiderate – getting lazy with the turn signal leads to crashes every day.

Over 750 billion times per year, drivers fail to properly use their turn signals. According to a study by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), drivers fail to signal when switching lanes 48% of the time and fail to signal when turning 25% of the time. Motorists also improperly leave their blinkers on long after changing lanes or use the wrong turn signal an additional 10% of the time

Why Are Turn Signals So Important?

The SAE study demonstrates a need for more research to understand and combat the problem of turn signal neglect. But why is it so important that drivers use turn signals when changing lanes, merging, parking, exiting, and turning?

Turn signals are more than just a courtesy to other drivers on the road. Turn signals communicate a driver’s intentions and act as an important warning sign for other motorists. Highway drivers who observe another vehicle’s turn signal are more likely to slow down, create space, and maintain a safe distance between cars. When motorists properly signal their intentions to turn, exit, or park, other drivers on the road can decrease speed, change lanes, or safely stop in order to avoid a collision and the resultant damage and bodily injury.

Whether you are driving a car, SUV, motorcycle, bus, rideshare vehicle, delivery truck, or tractor-trailer, you should signal before changing lanes, merging, exiting, parking or turning 100% of the time.

When Are Turn Signals Necessary?

Driving laws, including laws pertaining to turn signals, vary from state to state. However, whether driving a car, SUV, motorcycle, delivery truck, bus, tractor-trailer, or any other vehicle, drivers should use turn signals when doing the following:

  • Merging Lanes: Drivers should use turn signals to indicate that they are changing lanes or merging onto a highway.
  • Turning: Whether on an interstate highway, residential street, or county road, drivers should always use signals before turning left, right, or making a U-Turn.
  • Passing Other Vehicles: Unless otherwise indicated, motorists should only use the left lane to pass another vehicle and should signal before moving lanes.
  • Pulling Into or Out of a Parking Spot: Drivers should use turn signals before pulling into or out of a parking spot. When parallel parking, pulling into a driveway, or parking on the street, drivers should use the left turn signal to indicate that they are parking in a spot on the driver’s left side and the right turn signal to indicate that they are parking in a spot on the driver’s right. When pulling out of a spot or driveway, drivers should use the turn that corresponds to the direction that they are going.
  • Exiting: Drivers should use a turn signal to indicate to other motorists that they plan to exit a highway, expressway, or freeway using an off ramp.
  • Parking Lots: Every year, more than 50,000 collisions occur in parking lots. Many of these accidents occur when drivers fail to signal when turning or pulling into or out of a parking lot spot. According to the National Safety Council, two-thirds of drivers in commercial parking lots are distracted. Motorists should therefore remember that turn signal rules apply in parking lots as well.


What Are the Consequences for Failing to Use Turn Signals?

Turn signaling is required in every state, and the failure to do so can have serious consequences for motorists and passengers.

Drivers who fail to signal when changing lanes, merging, exiting, or turning can be ticketed for their traffic violations. Although the cost of these tickets may be relatively minor depending on the state, insurance companies are likely to raise rates for policyholders who incur such driving infractions.

Turn signal failures can also cause collisions and crashes with injurious or even lethal consequences for motorists, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. According to the SAE, turn signal neglect causes over two million auto accidents every year. That number represents nearly one in five accidents and is more than twice the number of annual accidents attributed to distracted driving. Those who are involved in an auto collision due to negligent signaling may suffer from the following:


  • Damage to Property, Including Personal Property: Cars, trucks, motorcycles, bikes, and other personal property may be partially or totally damaged when a driver’s negligent use of a turn signal causes an accident.
  • Permanent Injuries: Like all catastrophic auto collisions, crashes caused by motorists’ negligent turn signal use can result in severe and permanent injuries. According to a 2020 study by the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), 4,400,000 American drivers are seriously injured or disabled every year.
  • Emotional Pain and Suffering: Many people suffer from the effects of trauma after an auto collision. Symptoms can include trouble sleeping, depression, anxiety, loss of appetite, uncontrollable mood swings, lack of motivation, trouble concentrating, and loss of everyday joy.
  • Inability to Work: Accident survivors who have endured permanent injuries and/or are suffering from psychological side effects may have trouble finding, securing, and maintaining employment. Their ability to work may be limited or entirely foreclosed by the injuries and disabilities caused by the collision.
  • Dramatic Costs: According to the ASIRT, direct medical expenses cost American citizens more than $380 million dollars every year, and the wider economic and societal impact of these crashes costs the United States more than $871 billion per year.
  • Death: The ASIRT study also shows that more than 38,000 people die each year in car crashes in the United States. This means that every twenty-four seconds, someone dies on the road. In fact, auto accidents are the leading cause of death for every American under the age of fifty-four.

Turn signals are crucial when sharing the road with trucks

Because trucks are larger, carry more cargo, contain more blind spots, and are more difficult to slow down or stop, these catastrophic consequences are often magnified for collisions involving tractor-trailers, semis, and other commercial delivery trucks. It’s important to remember that large trucks can’t slow down, stop, or change lanes as quickly as a car. That means if you make an unexpected move around a truck, the truck driver may not be able to react in enough time to avoid a collision. ALWAYS use your turn signal when making a turn or changing lanes around a tractor trailer.

If you or a loved one has suffered an accident and experienced or continues to experience any of these serious problems, don’t suffer any longer. Contact a Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys attorney today!

Make it a habit: Always use your blinker

It doesn’t matter if you’re in heavy traffic, a residential neighborhood, or if you’re the only car in sight. Use your blinker. Make it a habit, something that you do without thinking. Properly using a turn signal is one of the easiest and most important ways to avoid a tragedy that can upend your life or someone else’s.

Do You Know Someone Who Was in an Accident Caused by Turn Signal Negligence?

We’ve seen time and again the consequences of bad driving such as turn signal neglect. If you’re involved in a crash with a driver who failed to signal, that driver may be named at fault and you may have a legal case for compensation.

The experienced lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys are community leaders who are specifically dedicated to the field of auto and truck accidents. They are dedicated to helping victims and their families recover for the losses, pain, and suffering that they have endured. If you or someone who know was in a collision caused by improper turn signal use, don’t wait–contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

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