Belding: Turn signal use important in ensuring driver safety

Michael Belding

Your car’s turn signal is one of its most

critical — and probably one of its most unused — parts. The lever

that protrudes from one side of your steering column might be very

small, but it is one of the most important components of your


I have often driven behind people who, when

approaching an intersection, slow down with no apparent

reason. The intersection is

reached, and the car turns.<span style=

“mso-spacerun: yes;”> The reason for the slowing becomes


It is vitally important that turn signals be

used by drivers who intend to turn. Blinkers provide important

information to other drivers about the direction of other cars’

travel. They also, through

regular use, ensure that drivers are aware of their own


Drivers need to know not only the whereabouts

of other traffic on the roads, but they should also, if possible,

be made aware of the intentions of other drivers. This is

especially true in high-traffic areas, with a high density of cars

on the roads. 

Drivers need to be able to plan for changes in

traffic flow so they can allow themselves enough space to maneuver

in the event of unexpected lane changes, merges and speedily moving

cars. They need to be able to act on those changes as they


Not using your turn signal deprives other

drivers of the information they need to do their own part to ensure

fewer collisions occur.<span style=

“mso-spacerun: yes;”> Fewer collisions means fewer headaches

for every traveler and less of your money going to car insurance

premiums. It means that, generally speaking, the whole reason for

having a car is not moot. 

That reason?<span style=

“mso-spacerun: yes;”> To move quickly from point A to point


Increased awareness of your own surroundings

is a side effect of religiously using your turn

signals. Meaningful use of

blinkers requires forethought about your route. You have to think

about where you’re going, when you’ll get there and where to turn

when you arrive at the end of the current leg of your


Driving is an activity that is so often taken

for granted, especially in the United States.<span style=

“mso-spacerun: yes;”> The abundance of automobiles traveling

in this country makes it especially important that their drivers be

skilled at the activity.<span style=

“mso-spacerun: yes;”> 

Anticipating your own changes of direction —

not just those of the drivers around you, which can only be done

when their turn signal is used — lets others know that you are in

fact actively driving your car.<span style=

“mso-spacerun: yes;”> It lets other drivers know, with a

reasonable amount of confidence in your ability, that you are not

passively following the road in front of you or the

moment-by-moment instructions of a GPS.<span style=

“mso-spacerun: yes;”> 

Driving in such a way that your colleagues on

the road know your intentions is not some legendary, heroic act.

You can do it by simply flicking that small bar protruding from

your steering column. 

Coupling turn signal use with looking around

to know where other cars are positioned will make you a better

driver in your own right, and it will make us all