Using Turn Signals


The older I get the more I can appreciate living in a smaller community. Of the many benefits that residing in such a community provides, safe and relaxed driving situations has to be near the top of my personal list.

When I lived in Las Vegas, I would spend my mornings at a near heart-stopping panic level over the thought of merging onto the Las Vegas Beltway for my daily commute to work. For those unfamiliar with that particular stretch of freeway, it's featured as the Seventh Circle of Hell in Dante's “Inferno”, complete with near-accurate illustrations.

All joking aside, the Beltway was intense, and traffic patterns would force split-second decisions that would require one to be fully aware behind the wheel. I can't even begin to count all the times cars would go from a 90mph sprint to a full-stop in seconds flat due to an instant traffic jam. It would only take a passing glance to the shoulder to see how many drivers were unsuccessful during that day's travel. Don't even get me started on driving conditions in the rare moments of rain, when the oil that has been baking into the pavement under the hot Nevada sun liquifies and becomes worse than ice.

Needless to say, one becomes incredibly appreciative of the use of turn signals, which brings me back to driving in our wonderful, rural community. Even though the speeds of travel are significantly less (for some…) and traffic is much more limited, the use of turn signals is still extremely important. Again this week, a driver in front of me failed to signal and made a last minute turn which forced me into an unsafe braking situation. With icy roads right around the corner, let's review the Iowa DOT's Drivers Manual.

According to the manual, you should use your turn signals before you change lanes, turn right or left, merge into traffic, or park.

• Get into the habit of signaling every time you change direction. Signal even when you do not see anyone else around.

• Signal as early as you can. Try and signal at least three seconds before you make your move. You must signal at least 100 feet before a turn if the speed limit is 45 mph or less. If the speed limit is faster than 45 mph, you must signal at least 300 feet before you turn.

• Be careful that you do not signal too early. If there are streets, driveways or entrances between you and where you want to turn, wait until you have passed them to signal.

• If another vehicle is about to enter the street between you and where you plan to turn, wait until you have passed it to signal your turn. If you signal earlier, the other driver may think you plan to turn where that driver is and he/she might pull into your path.

• After you have made a turn or lane change, make sure your turn signal is off. After short turns, the signals may not turn off by themselves. Turn it off if it has not canceled by itself. If you do not, other drivers might think you plan to turn again.


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