Signaling lane changes are mandatory

Every day as I drive in the Village of Malone, where there are several miles of four-lane streets and roads, I cannot drive more than a couple of blocks without watching at least one driver change lanes without using his/her turn signal. And, the number of drivers that fail to use their turn signal prior to turning at an intersection is mystifying for sure. Flicking the turn signal up or down is the simplest thing you can do as a driver. To not signal is just so inconsiderate that it defies reason.

Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1163 (b) states: “A signal of intention to turn right or left when required shall be given continuously during not less than 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.” The wording “shall” means that using the turn signal at least 100 feet before the turn is required, and failure to do so is a VTL violation.

VTL section 1163 (d) states, in part; “The signals shall be used to indicate an intention to turn, change lanes, or start from a parked position.” Again, the wording “shall” means it is required to signal your lane change at least 100 feet before moving into the other lane. Signaling a lane change is required every time, even when you enter a center turn lane or move from a through lane into a left turn only lane. Because so many drivers fail to do this, I just don’t think drivers are aware of what the law requires.

In 2018, the NY State Police issued 15,127 tickets for violations of the state’s section 1163 law, including failure to signal, not signaling at least 100 feet before making a turn or a lane change, or misusing a signal. In addition to a fine and surcharge, it is also two points on your driver’s license.

There is usually good reasoning for traffic laws. Signaling turns, lane changes, and leaving from a parked position lets other drivers know what you intend to do. If other drivers are aware of your intentions, crashes are reduced. If other drivers can expect your next move they can be prepared for that, and if perhaps you failed to see another vehicle in the lane you want to move into, by signaling your intention, that driver might be able to avoid a fender bender with you. Furthermore, that other driver is likely to give you more room to make the lane change — a win-win for both.

Professional drivers who navigate 18-wheelers on the highway regularly cite the lack of turn-signal discipline as a major pet peeve.

According to Chris Kaufmann, a former Los Angeles Metro police officer now a driving school instructor who specializes in teaching people who drive V.I.Ps, there is evidence that the act of signaling provides a cognitive benefit to the driver. “When you turn on the turn signal, you turn on your brain,” said Kaufmann. “It’s the start of a checklist to look left, look right, signal, look left, look right,” he said.

So, trigger your cognitive benefit and use your turn signals whenever required.


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