Correct Signalling - Sep. 8
When people talk to me about driving, they invariably mention how many drivers turn, change lanes, or merge into traffic that either don’t signal or signal incorrectly?
It’s a good subject as understanding other driver’s actions and where they are moving is like learning by osmosis in this city. Failing to signal could cause collisions and a big cause of frustration leading to "road rage” in other drivers.
The correct use of operating our signal lights is crucial during driving. Sadly it is either poor, inconsistent or in some cases neglected altogether.
Signalling is another form of being seen and understood while we interact with other road users and is a skill when done correctly. Timing is vital when using the turn signals and is more important than distance from the turn or lane in which you want to enter.
For turns, the signal should be initiated a few seconds before any change in speed or direction. Always consider that the other driver / pedestrian or road user that it is intended for, has to see the signal and interpret what it means because when you use your signals, you are ‘talking’ to other road users around you, so use them in good time, giving other’s plenty of time to react and adapt to your signal.
A couple of tips when using your indicators to turn is to a) signal after any major conflicts but before the street you are about to turn into so others understand. b) If there is no other street before your intended turn, put your signal on before going to the brake; that way the driver behind will see the signal and alter their speed on expecting you to slow for the turn. Once you have completed the manoeuvre make sure the indicator has cancelled otherwise you may confuse other road users*. Remember communication goes both ways, don’t think because your signal is on the whole world knows where you are going; make sure the other road users understand your actions by quickly glancing at who your move is going to affect (car behind, other road users around you, pedestrian, bike etc.).
*When entering and exiting a ramp, changing lanes or when the steering wheel is not turned more than about quarter a turn on most present day vehicles or older, the cancelling pin inside the steering column will not automatically switch off the signal and will have to be done manually.
Your signal switch is only a finger-tip away.
For some of the laws concerning signalling and their use from the Highway Traffic Act, see below, these incidentally also include Bicycles.
Highway Traffic Act regarding signalling
Signalling turns and stops Signal for left or right turn - 142.
(1) The driver or operator of a vehicle upon a highway before turning to the left or right at any intersection or into a private road or driveway or from one lane for traffic to another lane for traffic or to leave the roadway shall first see that the movement can be made in safety, and if the operation of any other vehicle may be affected by the movement shall give a signal plainly visible to the driver or operator of the other vehicle of the intention to make the movement. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 142 (1).
Signal when moving from parked position
(2) The driver or operator of a vehicle parked or stopped on the highway before setting the vehicle in motion shall first see that the movement can be made in safety, and, if in turning the vehicle the operation of any other vehicle may be affected by the movement, shall give a signal plainly visible to the driver or operator of the other vehicle of the intention to make the movement. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 142 (2).
Mode of signalling turn
(3) The signal required in subsections (1) and (2) shall be given either by means of the hand and arm in the manner herein specified or by a mechanical or electrical signal device as described in subsection (6). R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 142 (3).
How to signal manually
(4) When the signal is given by means of the hand and arm, the driver or operator shall indicate his or her intention to turn,
(a) to the left, by extending the hand and arm horizontally and beyond the left side of the vehicle; or
(b) to the right, by extending the hand and arm upward and beyond the left side of the vehicle. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 142 (4).
(5) Despite clause (4) (b), a person on a bicycle may indicate the intention to turn to the right by extending the right hand and arm horizontally and beyond the right side of the bicycle. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 142 (5).
Requirements for signalling device
(6) A mechanical or electrical signal device shall clearly indicate the intention to turn, shall be visible and understandable during day-time and night-time from the front and from the rear of the vehicle for a distance of 30 metres, and shall be self-illuminated when used at any time from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 142 (6).
Signalling devices to be used only for purpose of indicating turn
(7) No person while operating or in control of a vehicle upon a highway shall actuate the mechanical or electrical device referred to in subsection (6) for any purpose other than to indicate a movement referred to in subsection (1) or (2). R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 142 (7).
Signal for stop
(8) The driver or operator of a vehicle upon a highway before stopping or suddenly decreasing the speed of the vehicle, if the operation of any other vehicle may be affected by such stopping or decreasing of speed, shall give a signal plainly visible to the driver or operator of the other vehicle of the intention to stop or decrease speed,
(a) by means of the hand and arm extended downward beyond the left side of the vehicle; or
signalling device. (b) by means of a stop lamp or lamps on the rear of the vehicle which shall emit a red or amber light and which shall be actuated upon application of the service or foot brake and which may or may not be incorporated with one or more rear lamps. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 142 (8).