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Turn Signals - Common Sense & Common Courtesy

Posted by Posted by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao

With over 222 million licensed drivers in the United States – nearly double the 112 million licensed drivers in 1970 – adherence to traffic safety laws is more important than ever.  Also vital are local, state and federal safety campaigns such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) “Share the Roads” initiative to increase driver awareness of other road users, such as pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists. 

The advent of social media enables everyone with a concern for road safety to amplify their concerns to fellow drivers.  One of the more remarkable examples of such safety advocacy is a YouTube video created by and starring an Indiana State Trooper, Sargent John Perrine.  Sargent Perrine created the video to encourage drivers to deploy one of the most fundamental, and underused, safety devices on cars:  the turn signal.  Sargent Perrine’s video has been viewed over 15 million times. 


Sargent Perrine opens the video by noting that this remarkable device is standard on all vehicles and reduces the incidence of crashes and road rage.  He boils down the importance of turn signals in a forthright manner: “This is not only the right thing to do, it’s not only against the law not to use it, but it’s the courteous thing to do.” 

About 40 percent of a vehicle’s outer perimeter is hidden by blind spots, so it is very important that drivers signal even if you don’t see anyone else nearby.  Yet, way too many drivers are not bothering to signal.  The Society of Automotive Engineers studied this phenomenon and concluded that around half of drivers fail to signal when changing lanes and 25% don’t signal when making a turn. 

Failure to signal is illegal, inconsiderate and extremely dangerous to everyone in your vehicle and to all the road users around you.  And even if you are in the habit of using turn signals, please make sure yours are actually working. 

We live in an era of technological change and innovative solutions to many transportation problems. In fact, many new vehicles are equipped with blind spot alerts and warnings that help drivers determine whether it is safe to change lanes.  But even these sophisticated technologies cannot read a driver’s mind and warn other road users that you intend to change lanes.  Sometimes, the simple solution is the most effective to improve the safety of our roads.  So, please, use your turn signals.