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Making Safe Turns

When you wish to turn, change lanes, stop, or slow down, you need to let the other participants in traffic know by signaling appropriately. Communicating your intention to the other drivers is an essential part of safe and defensive driving practices.

Unless you let others know where you are going, they will be unable to anticipate the change and adapt safely and smoothly. Just one driver on a busy road failing to communicate unequivocally in just a single situation, as simple as a lane change, is all it takes to cause a ripple effect of congestion and frustration, and at worst, an accident.

You may communicate using the turning signals your vehicle is equipped with, and in some situations, as when intense sunlight makes turning signals difficult to make out, arm signaling is also an option.

Here are some tips that will help make your trip safer and more enjoyable:

  •  When changing lanes, check your mirrors and your blind spot, and signal 5 seconds before you switch to the other lane.
  • Practice similar precautions when you want to pull over to the curb and away from it.
  • Before making a left or right turn, also check your mirrors and signal for the 100 feet preceding the turn, scanning the traffic around you carefully.
  • Do not assume that the road you are coming into will be obstacle free; rather, expect to share it with pedestrians and with stopped, parked or slowing vehicles, and to negotiate road work.
  • Unless multiple lanes in the same direction are available, make the turn as close as is practicable to the right curb when making a right turn and as close to the left curb in a left turn.
  • Signaling whenever you want to perform the above maneuvers is probably safest. The California Driver Handbook advises to signal even if you do not see other vehicles around, taking into account that traffic is unpredictable and always subject to human error ( ). Some drivers make it a habit to signal only when they can see other traffic around that might be affected by this information. Seeing as no driver’s perception is infallible, visibility is rarely ideal and traffic is unpredictable, adhering to these simple practices in your driving, signaling in the above situations will contribute to ensuring your own mobility and safety, as well as that of others.
  • Finally, remember to cancel the signal once you have made the change. 


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