5/30/2012 2:51 PM ET|
Lost art of the turn signal
Some of us don't bother to signal; others let the light keep blinking. And those habits could reduce or eliminate what insurance covers in an accident.
The next time you are driving, count how many times your fellow drivers fail to use their turn signals. Chances are you will run out of fingers and toes before the engine is warm.
Nearly half of all drivers either don't signal to change lanes or fail to turn the indicator off if they do, according to a newly released report from the Society of Automotive Engineers. Researchers observed 12,000 cars and found a failure rate on lane changes of 48%. One driver in four failed to use a signal to make a turn, the report says.
Those findings back up a 2006 survey conducted by Response Insurance in which 57% of American drivers admitted not using turn signals when changing lanes. Among drivers ages 18 to 24, 71% said they don't use their signals.
Even more disturbing than the statistics were the reasons. Forty-two percent of the signal-avoiders said they didn't have time; 23% admitted they were just too lazy.
Perhaps the rest ran out of blinker fluid. But that momentary lapse comes back to haunt many drivers.
"All drivers have an ongoing duty" to use signals, says SAE report author Richard Ponziani, "just as they have a duty to stop at a stop sign or at a red light."
While failure to signal may seem like a small infraction, improper turning and lane changing (the most frequent infractions associated with failure to signal) cause a lot of car accidents. In New York's most recent tally of accidents, unsafe lane changes were the fifth-most-common cause of accidents, and turning improperly was No. 7.
Nationwide, neglected or improper turn signals cause 2 million car accidents a year, Ponziani says. And for drivers involved in those accidents, a citation for failure to use turn signals could make the difference between a covered repair and a denied claim.
What is the law?
All states require drivers to use directional signals to indicate their intention to turn, change lanes or pass a vehicle.
The details differ, but the goal is the same: No surprises. Indicators make your fellow drivers aware of your intentions and give them enough time to adapt or respond. While the penalty varies by state, failure to signal is usually a minor traffic violation.
According to Penny Gusner, the consumer analyst at CarInsurance.com, a failure-to-signal citation could affect your insurance in several ways.
Many states do not allow insurers to raise rates for just one ticket, but a failure-to-signal citation could cost you a good-driver discount. That could bump up your premiums by as much as 25%, Gusner says. If your state does allow insurers to ding you for a single moving violation, look for a rate increase in the 5% to 20% range.
But the real cost comes if you're involved in an accident. Comparative negligence laws allow insurance companies to reduce claims proportional to degree of fault, Gusner says. If failing to signal puts you more than 50% at fault for the accident, your claim can be adjusted downward or denied altogether, Gusner says.
And contributory negligence states -- Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina and the District of Columbia -- prohibit a driver from recovering any damages if found even a small amount at fault for the accident.
Failure to signal would certainly qualify.
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If you do not use your turn signals when changing lanes or turning, you are reckless and irresponsible. period. Take away their licenses for a year. That will get their attention!
MY turn signal is a SIGNAL OF INTENTION, not a REQUEST for space. I WILL be merging over in the direction that I'm signaling whether you curteously make room for me or not. My truck is bigger than your prius. You will lose in the collision that I have ZERO reservations about causing. YES, I WILL make a BIG deal about how I signaled and you didn't allow for me to merge. YOU will ALSO be ticketed for failing to avoid the collision. I've already been through this once. I know how it works. I used to signal, then wait, then wait, then spastically turn my signal on and off to show the idiots that I'm signalling a turn, now its just "one two three, LOOK OUT FOR ME!".
That guy in the BMW was so mad when the cop cited HIM as well, and HIS insurance had to pay for his vehicle not MINE, like he thought as he purposefully drove like a douche.
I wish there was a way that it had to be MANDATORY to use your signals. Two of my pet peeves when I am driving is: 1. Folks that DO NOT use their turn signals. 2. Slow drivers in the SPEED lane. Driving is the only time that I cuss anymore. When they do not use the turn signal, or they stay in the speed lane, I flash them. (I was taught how to drive/road courtesy by a Greyhound bus driver on the highway) In fact, a family member told me I should not do that because it might make the other driver angry. I told them that it was the RIGHT THING TO DO.
How do I know what they are going to do, if they do not signal me?
I suggest driving like you had a police officer behind you, it will make you more aware of what you are doing (or not doing) while driving. Also after witnessing bad driving I like to do my part to protect myself or my passangers from injury as much as possible, signaling shows other drivers my intention, they can't read my mind, nor I theirs.
Turn signals will soon be a thing of the past. I believe within the next 20 years, humans will no longer need to do anything except type their desired destination into their vehicles navigation system, sit back, and relax. Accidents will be reduced to a mere fraction what they are today, largely due to the human element being taken out of the driving experience. It's definitely an exciting time we live in---just for fun, take a look back at some commercials/ads from 1992. A lot can change in 20 years.
By the way I do believe turn signals are common courtesy, just like saying please and thank you. It's a shame that so many have lost sight of this.
This article could also be entitled "Driving in 2012". From the text: "...drivers ages 18 to 24, 71% said they don't use their signals...Forty-two percent of the signal-avoiders said they didn't have time; 23% admitted they were just too lazy...."
Hmm, lazy, self-focused young people in a hurry? Sounds like the same drivers that honk at the car ahead of them for slowing to make a left turn! It's tough enough to navigate past the 1974 land yacht going 12 mph through the city, speed racers or Audi drivers to deal with needing a fortune teller as well.
Drivers will generally be lousy until the privilege is revoked, I suppose.
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