The Lost Art of the Turn Signal: Why Drivers Don’t Care, but Should

On Behalf of | Aug 10, 2012 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

This is a guest post by the personal injury trial attorneys of Console & Hollawell in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Turn signals prevent auto accidents, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the data to back up the claim. A 2009 study conducted by Kirk Allen, Ph.D. for the NHTSA shows 5.3 percent increased effectiveness in reducing rear-end collisions. The study calls the collected safety data ‘significant’ and points the use of turn signals as directly relating to the reduction of injuries and deaths on roadways across the country. The reasoning behind the science is simple: when you use your turn signal, other drivers know where you’re going. This simple action allows those sharing the road to prepare for your vehicle slowing down or moving closer to them. So, if turn signals save lives, why aren’t more drivers using them? Car accident attorneys in Upper Darby see the lack of turn signal use as a growing epidemic, and there’s still more data to stand behind that assertion.

A new study, released in May 2012 by the Society of Automotive Engineers, reveals that as many as half of all drivers fail to use their turn signals when changing lanes, and a quarter of all drivers don’t signal when making turns. All told that’s 750 billion occasions when drivers aren’t obeying signal requirements under state traffic laws. When looking at accident causes, the lack of turn signal use trumps distracted driving and texting by more than double. What’s being done in state legislatures to crack on this clearly larger problem?

Where you’re going on the road shouldn’t be a mystery to other drivers. Signaling before changing lanes or making turns isn’t a process to give a vehicle permission to make a turn. The wheel still works, the car still travels forward. When you don’t use the little levers in their cars to fire up those signals, drivers around you have no idea where you’re going. That leaves numerous possibilities for serious injuries to occur. Another driver, who is obeying the law by signaling, could easily merge into a lane you’re sliding into because he doesn’t know your intentions to do the same. The result? A potentially deadly accident that’s probably your fault in the majority.

In Pennsylvania, the fine for not using a turn signal is about $109 depending on attached costs. The fine for texting while behind the wheel is roughly the same, yet failing to use a turn signal causes far more accidents. Shouldn’t we be seeking higher cash fines to deter what is clearly a wider-spread problem? Car accident attorneys in Pennsylvania, like so many others, want safer roads and more responsible drivers. How many lives will it cost before we see that goal realized?