Many accidents occur when a driver is in a turn lane to turn left. A left turn can be a dangerous maneuver because the left turning vehicle enters the lane of traffic for other vehicles. It’s one of the maneuvers that require the most caution to be used.
Most states require in some form that the left turning motorist is required to signal his or her intent to make a left turn at least 100 feet before reaching an intersection. In addition to giving the proper signal, the driver is required to make a proper observation that the turn could be made without endangering a passing vehicle.
The left turning motorist also has the duty to yield to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction that are within the intersection or close enough to be an immediate hazard. And in intersections where there is an inoperative traffic signal especially, motorists have to use extreme caution.
But a surprising number of drivers neglect to use their turn indicators or turn them on late as they are turning. According to a report from 2012 by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), turn signal neglect causes as many as 2 million crashes per year in the U.S. The SAE studied a total of 12 turning and lane-changing vehicles, and found that the neglect rate for lane changing is 48% and 25% when making turns. Here are some tips for the use of turn signals:
- Get into the habit of signaling every time you change direction. Signal even when you do not see anyone else around because you might miss someone who needs to know what you are doing.
- Signal as early as you can. You should signal at least three seconds before you make your move. You must signal at least 100 feet before a turn if the speed limit is 45 mph or less. If the speed limit is faster than 45 mph, you must signal at least 300 feet before you turn. But be careful that you do not signal too early either. If there are streets or entrances between you and where you want to turn, wait until you have passed them to signal.
- If another vehicle is about to enter the street between you and where you plan to turn, wait until you have passed them to signal your turn. If you signal earlier, the other driver may think you plan to turn where they are and they might pull into your path.
These tips may seem like common sense, but many drivers fail to follow these tips and that is what causes many accidents to happen. So it’s important to make a habit of properly using your turn signals, even in parking lots. You should never rely on what other motorists might guess what you do. Make your intentions known as much as possible.
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