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What can Happen if a Driver Fails to Use a Turn Signal?

June 21, 2021

Turn Signals

Failure to signal when turning is extremely dangerous and can have lethal consequences. Turn signals are used to indicate a driver’s intentions, such as when the motorist changes lanes, merges, or turns. When a driver fails to use a turn signal, a car accident can happen, and the result can be serious injuries and property damage.

In the state of Virginia, drivers are required to use a turn signal before any movement that could affect another vehicle. When on the highway, the law says a turn signal must be used at least 50 feet in advance when planning to change lanes on a road with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less. For roads with higher speed limits, drivers must signal at least 100 feet before making a lane change.

Why is it so Important to Use Turn Signals?

Using turn signals is an important part of preventing crashes. It gives drivers the chance to anticipate the movement of the vehicles in their near vicinity and enables them to accelerate or slow down to create or fill space. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) reports that over two million car accidents occur annually from turn signal neglect. Failure to use turn signals endangers other drivers and their passengers, as well as bicyclists and pedestrians.

Given that they are unprotected, bicyclists and pedestrians are at a much higher risk for severe injuries or death when involved in an accident that was caused by a driver who did not signal their intentions. When sharing the road with a truck or tractor trailer, it is crucial to use turn signals because the size and weight of a large truck means they cannot make sudden adjustments easily and also need much more time to stop.

When Should I Use Turn Signals?

Turn signals are necessary on residential roads, state highways, county and rural roads, and in parking lots. Drivers should always use their turn signals in the following situations:

  • When making a turn. Whether turning right, left, or making a U-turn, using a turn signal lets other drivers know what to expect.
  • Changing lanes. A driver should adjust their speed to allow another vehicle into the lane.
  • Merging lanes. As a driver enters the highway or another merging situation, using a turn signal gets the attention of other motorists on the road.
  • Exiting the highway. As the exit approaches, signaling the intention to leave a highway or freeway lets other drivers anticipate a reduction in speed to avoid tailgating.
  • Passing another vehicle. Passing can be very dangerous, especially on rural roads. Always pass on the left, and motorists should give ample warning to other drivers by using turn signals.
  • Pulling out of a parking space. When leaving a driveway or parking spot, signaling first lets others know what to anticipate.
  • Parking lots. Parking lots are busy places, and many drivers let their guard down thinking the slower speed in a parking lot makes them safer. In a parking lot, turn signals should be used to show when a driver intends to park in a space.
  • Parking on a street. Always use a turn signal when pulling into a driveway or parking in a marked space on a street, but especially when parallel parking; this often requires the traffic to stop and wait until the vehicle has been parked. It is equally important to use a turn signal to indicate when the vehicle is leaving a parking spot so drivers on the street are not surprised as it enters moving traffic.

What Types of Car Accidents can Happen When Drivers Forget to Use Turn Signals?

Turn signals are so important, and failure to use them can cause nearly every kind of car accident, including minor fender benders and multi-vehicle accidents. The study done by the SAE observed 12,000 vehicles making turns in the field. The engineers observed that 25 percent of the drivers turned without signaling, and approximately 48 percent of the drivers failed to use their turn signals when changing lanes. Additionally, over 10 percent of the drivers observed used their turn signals incorrectly or forgot to turn them off after using them.

If drivers followed the law and used turn signals properly, many of the following types of accidents could be prevented:

  • Sideswipe accidents that are caused from changing lanes without signaling.
  • Rear-end accidents that happen when a driver forgets to signal before turning right.
  • Head-on collisions can occur in parking lots when two drivers try to park in the same spot and do not signal their intentions.
  • T-bone accidents, which commonly happen when a driver wants to turn left but does not signal, which can cause oncoming traffic to hit the vehicle in the middle as it turns.

What are Common Car Accident Injuries?

Seemingly minor injuries from any type of car accident can sometimes develop into long-term problems. Common car accident injuries include soft tissue injuries, like whiplash, and lacerations, broken bones, fractures, head and neck injuries, and back injuries. Serious car crashes can result in more devastating injuries, such as damage to internal organs, spinal cord damage and paralysis, and amputations. Sometimes, drivers or their passengers do not survive the crash, such as when a car collides with a much bigger SUV or semi-truck.

Any type of accident, including those caused by failure to use a turn signal, will be more severe if the driver was speeding. It should be noted that a driver who uses the wrong turn signal may be liable for any accident that results.

Compensation for Car Accident Injuries and Property Damage

The fallout from a serious car accident can be massive and include physical, emotional, and financial consequences. Medical bills from injuries can pile up quickly, and treatment can be ongoing if rehabilitative physical therapy is needed afterward. Some injuries are permanent and can prevent a person from returning to work and earning a living. Often, the psychological effects of an accident are equally devastating and require therapy.

There will likely be property damage after a collision as well. Damage to personal property may occur along with damage to the vehicle. In Virginia, injured car accident victims can seek compensation for their losses if they can prove that the other driver was totally responsible for causing the collision. For instance, if the other driver failed to use their turn signal before changing lanes and caused an accident, they could be deemed liable. A car accident lawyer can help a victim prove their case.

Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Provide Legal Counsel to Collision Victims

Failure to use a turn signal is a frequent and dangerous problem. If you have been injured in a collision that was caused by the negligence of another driver, a Virginia Beach car accident lawyer is ready to help you. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we fight to hold negligent drivers accountable for their reckless actions. Call us at 757-352-2237 today or complete our online form for more information and a free consultation about your case. We are conveniently located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and we proudly serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shore, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.

Areas We Serve

Our law firm proudly serves clients injured anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina on personal injury claims, including cases with traumatic brain injury, spinal and neck injury, wrongful death, and more serious injuries. As Virginia Beach personal injury attorneys with many years experience, our team of lawyers will be ready to fight for you. If you were injured on the job, our Virginia Beach Workers Compensation lawyers are ready to serve you.

Call 757-352-2237 or fill out the online contact form for a free consultation about your personal injury, workers compensation, or other attorney services. Our firm adopts a team approach to every case, so while one primary lawyer will be assigned to your case, you have the benefit of an experienced team of lawyers, all working on your side. We are located in Virginia Beach, VA, and serve clients who were injured anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina.

301 Bendix Road, Suite 460
Virginia Beach VA 23452
Ph: 757-352-2237 | Fax: 757-994-8910