CORRECT USE OF SIGNALS

Signals are a very important part of the “Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre” routine. There are many different modes of signal we can use, the main ones being electric and arm. Arm signals can be very useful, either to complement an electric signal or in place of an electric signal. There are three main types of arm signal: to the right, to the left and slowing down. You can ask your instructor to teach you these skills or they can be found in the Highway Code. The main electric signals in a car are indicators and brake lights. You also have other warning signals: audio using the horn or visual using flashing headlamps. Please remember that these two signals are merely to make other road users aware of your presence. We also have flashing hazard warning lamps and reversing lights.

One of the most important things about signals is timing. They must not be used too early or too late. What signal timing actually means is that traffic and pedestrians in your vicinity have time to act safely and sensibly upon seeing your signal. Generally, in a 30 m.p.h. limit you would give a signal to the left approximately 6 car lengths before you turn but for a right turn 8 car lengths. This latter signal needs to be applied slightly earlier because you will be changing road position, but this is not always the case; if we were travelling at 20 m.p.h. the signal could be applied slightly later. This is because at the slower speed people would have more time to react to your signal. Likewise, if we were travelling at 70 m.p.h. on a dual carriageway and we wished to take the next exit, as a guide we would signal after the 3 rd count-down marker and before the 2nd count-down marker. Remember: extra speed needs longer time.

Signals are not always necessary, i.e. if we were pulling into the left in a meeting situation and applied a signal, the following vehicle might be expecting us to park. Also, if there was no option but to turn to the left (or right) no signal would be required. However, please do not forget that if there is even a 1% chance that someone will benefit from a signal you should use it. Also, please remember that the position and speed of your car should be a strong signal of your intentions.