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Nearly Half of All Drivers Fail to Use a Turn Signal  Nearly half of all drivers fail to use a turn signal according to a report from the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The report also indicated that one in four drivers failed to use a signal to make a turn. Under Washington law you are not permitted to turn or move right or left upon a roadway until the movement can be made safely and by giving the proper signal.  This is for all vehicles, cars, motorcycles, bikes, etc.   If you have lighted signals then you are required to use those.  If you do not have turn signals or your signals are not functioning properly then you must use hand and arm signals.

Hand and arm signals are to be made as follows:

  • Left turn. Hand and arm extended horizontally.
  • Right turn. Hand and arm extended upward.
  • Stop or decrease speed. Hand and arm extended downward.

Be sure to use your turn signals or make the requisite hand signals when turning and changing lanes.

Also, you should make sure it reasonably safe around you and when you are turning, changing lanes and making any movements with your vehicle.

The Washington Rules of the Road regarding turn signals are as follows:

RCW 46.61.300: Starting parked vehicle.

No person shall start a vehicle which is stopped, standing or parked unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety.

RCW 46.61.305: When signals required—Improper use prohibited.

  • No person shall turn a vehicle or move right or left upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety nor without giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided.
  • A signal of intention to turn or move right or left when required shall be given continuously during not less than the last one hundred feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.
  • No person shall stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle without first giving an appropriate signal in the manner provided herein to the driver of any vehicle immediately to the rear when there is opportunity to give such signal.
  • The signals provided for in RCW 46.61.310 subsection (2), shall not be flashed on one side only on a disabled vehicle, flashed as a courtesy or “do pass” signal to operators of other vehicles approaching from the rear, nor be flashed on one side only of a parked vehicle except as may be necessary for compliance with this section.

RCW 46.61.310: Signals by hand and arm or signal lamps.

  • Any stop or turn signal when required herein shall be given either by means of the hand and arm or by signal lamps, except as otherwise provided in subsection (2) hereof.
  • Any motor vehicle in use on a highway shall be equipped with, and required signal shall be given by, signal lamps when the distance from the center of the top of the steering post to the left outside limit of the body, cab or load of such motor vehicle exceeds twenty-four inches, or when the distance from the center of the top of the steering post to the rear limit of the body or load thereof exceeds fourteen feet. The latter measurements shall apply to any single vehicle, also to any combination of vehicles.

RCW 46.61.315: Method of giving hand and arm signals.

All signals herein required given by hand and arm shall be given from the left side of the vehicle in the following manner and such signals shall indicate as follows:

  • Left turn. Hand and arm extended horizontally.
  • Right turn. Hand and arm extended upward.
  • Stop or decrease speed. Hand and arm extended downward.

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