Letter: Drivers should use turning signals the way they were intended | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: Drivers should use turning signals the way they were intended

Let’s say you and I are driving in our cars. I’m behind you and we’re approaching a stop sign at a T-intersection, and you must turn left or right. If you want to turn right, there is a right turn lane with a yield sign at the intersection, so you don’t have to stop unless there is traffic coming from your left. A good example of this situation is the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and Colorado Highway 131 south of Steamboat. Now, imagine that you intend to turn left, so you stay in the lane that leads to the STOP sign. As you come to a stop, you turn on your left-turn indicator to signal your turn.

Here’s the problem. By the time you pass your opportunity to move into the right-turn lane to turn right, it is obvious that you will be turning left. At this point, using your turn signal is absolutely irrelevant and provides no information. In effect, it is for show.

The purpose of turn signals is to let other drivers know your intentions long enough in advance to add the information to their mental “picture” of what is happening on the road. In the situation I describe your intention to turn left or right should be indicated before you choose to go into to the right-turn lane or continue straight ahead to the stop sign. Using your turn signal after that choice point provides other drivers with no additional info — by that time, we can see what you are doing.

My point is that turn signals are there to let others know what you intend to do, not what you are doing. Waiting until you “make your move” is like not signaling a lane change until you are actually changing lanes! We’ve all seen or done it.

So, help out your fellow drivers and use your turn signals in the way they are intended to be used, to let others know what you plan to do before you do it, and hopefully far enough in advance for the information to be useful. If there is a “choice point” up ahead — turn left or right, for example — let us know before the choice point what you plan to do. Help us keep our roads and highways as safe as possible.

Howard Bashinski

Oak Creek

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