Driver Safety in the “Blink” of an Eye: Always Signal Your Intent

Driver Safety in the “Blink” of an Eye: Always Signal Your Intent

The turn signal or “blinker” on a truck is a critical tool.  You might not think so, but just the simple use of your turn signal can significantly reduce the chances of an accident.

Studies indicate that about half of all road users fail to use their turn signal when executing a turn or changing lanes.  Or they turn on their signal at the last moment, which does not provide enough warning to other drivers.  Or they fail to cancel the signal after executing the turn or lane change.

The key is to use your turn signal every time you turn or changes lanes.  No matter the traffic conditions, type of road, vehicle density or weather, use your blinker.  Even if you think you are the only one on the road, use your signal.  The habit of using your signal every time will help ensure that you always do it, even without thinking.

Turn on the signal early, and keep it on until you have executed the maneuver.  Check mirrors and confirm you have space.  Then turn it off when it is safe to do so.

Signaling your intent in a vehicle is a basic principle of safe driving: making sure other drivers see you.   Your signal helps notify other drivers that your vehicle is changing position, so they can adjust speed and give you space.  It will save lives and reduce crash frequency.  The opposite is also true:  if you make an abrupt move of a tractor-trailer, with no warning or signal, you substantially increase the potential for a crash since other drivers cannot anticipate your move, and have limited time to react.

Accidents happen in the blink of an eye.  Prevent them by using your turn signal — every time.

What percentage of accidents are caused by failure to use turn signals?

Various safety studies, including one by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), suggest that the failure to properly use turn signals contributes to millions of crashes annually. Specifically, the SAE study estimated that neglecting to use turn signals or failing to turn them off could be responsible for as many as 2 million crashes per year in the United States. This statistic highlights the significant role that proper turn signal use plays in preventing traffic accidents.

Can habitual non-use of turn signals impact insurance rates?

Yes, habitual non-use of turn signals that leads to traffic citations can impact insurance rates. Insurance companies evaluate a driver’s risk level based on their history of traffic violations, accidents, and claims. Repeated violations, including those for not using turn signals, can result in points on a driver’s record and potentially lead to increased insurance premiums. Insurers view a pattern of violations as indicative of risky driving behavior, which statistically raises the likelihood of accidents and claims, thereby potentially increasing rates.

Is there a recommended method for reminding oneself to use turn signals?

To build the habit of using turn signals consistently, integrating the action into your broader driving routine can be effective. This involves linking signal use with other habitual actions, such as checking mirrors or adjusting speed. A practical approach is to adopt a sequence of actions before turning or changing lanes: check mirrors, signal, and then check the blind spot. Making signaling an automatic part of this sequence can help establish it as a routine habit. Additionally, verbalizing actions (“signaling left,” “changing lanes”) can reinforce this habit. For newer vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), these may include features that remind drivers to use their turn signals under certain conditions, aiding in habit formation.