Make Sure You Send The Right Signals

Peter Rodger, chief examiner of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, gives simple, sensible advice on the correct used of indicators.

Always give clear signals when they are required. Not signalling when you need to – approaching a junction or changing lane – is annoying at best and at worst dangerous.

Signal early. There is no point indicating as you make the manoeuvre. This is a particular problem with changing lanes on motorways where late signals are a major threat to motorcyclists who might be taking advantage of their size to pass a queue of traffic.

Don’t give signals if nobody else is around to see them. This encourages you to check properly if anybody is there.

Give signals to pedestrians. There might be no traffic around, but if you’re planning to turn and there are pedestrians on the pavement, they need to know your intentions.

Check your lights regularly to make sure they are all working. You can’t give clear signals if you have a dead bulb, and driving with one is illegal, so test all your lights at least weekly.

Never underestimate the power of body language. Other drivers won’t always give appropriate signals, but you can tell a lot by their positioning and speed. If they start to slow down for no apparent reason, the chances are they are about to do something.

Rodger said: “Giving signals is a way of talking to other road users so they can plan their actions. Make sure these signals are clear, timely and necessary, to give other people as much notice as possible when you plan to change speed or direction.”

Peter Rodger is the IAM’s chief examiner. The IAM is the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, dedicated to improving standards and safety in driving, motorcycling and cycling. The commercial division of the IAM operates through its occupational driver training company IAM Drive & Survive. The IAM has more than 200 local volunteer groups and over 100,000 members in the UK and Ireland. It is best known for the advanced driving test and the advanced driving, motorcycling and cycling courses. Its policy and research division offers advice and expertise on road safety.

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