Massachusetts is infamous for having drivers that do not use their turn signals while on the road. This lack of blinker use creates more problems than you might think.
In fact, a shocking study by the Society of Automotive Engineers shows that one in every four turns is made without using a signal. The result? Two million collisions each year. Therefore, accidents caused by failure to use a blinker occur more than twice as often as accidents caused by distracted driving. (Distracted driving causes about 950,000 collisions per year.)
Turn signals are important because they act as a form of communication. Other drivers cannot predict which way you are going, and you cannot predict their moves either.
Whenever you use a blinker, you should always provide an ample amount of time for the other drivers to recognize your message. Use your blinker at least 100 feet before you make the turn (the distance between two electric poles is approximately 50 ft).
When should I use a blinker?
It's your responsibility to signal turns, even if your blinker breaks. Here’s what the law says:
“Every person operating a motor vehicle, before stopping said vehicle or making any turning movement which would affect the operation of any other vehicle, shall give a plainly visible signal by activating the brake lights or directional lights or signal as provided on said vehicle; and in the event electrical or mechanical signals are not operating or not provided on the vehicle, a plainly visible signal by means of the hand and arm shall be made. Hand and arm signals shall be made as follows:—
1. An intention to turn to the left shall be indicated by hand and arm extended horizontally.
2. An intention to turn to the right shall be indicated by hand and arm extended upward.
3. An intention to stop or decrease speed shall be indicated by hand and arm extended downward.
Whoever violates any provision of this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than twenty-five dollars for each offense. “
In plainer English, you should always use a blinker. For more specific situations, see below.
- Making turns. Whether it’s a side road, a driveway, a fast food drive-thru, you need to let other drivers know where you're heading. Whenever you make a turn, your car will be slowing down and the cars behind you have to be aware that your speed will be changing prior to the turn.
- Switching lanes. You should always use a turn signal to indicate change of lane. Remember, there might be a driver right in your blind spot.
- Intersections and traffic lights. At all intersections, use the signal to show in which direction you intend to proceed. At intersections with traffic lights and traffic lanes (i.e. “left turn only” lanes), continue to use your turn signal. Other drivers behind you may have their vision blocked and are unable to identify the specificity of the traffic lanes.
Using a turn signal doesn’t take away from any of the driving experience. All it does is create a safer environment for all drivers, including yourself.