Signals are there to help other road users understand what we are doing, or intend to do, in our vehicle. The most frequently used signals are the direction indicators, and the brake lights.
You should use the signals as part of the Mirrors Signal Manoeuvre routine. Always check the mirrors before signalling.The reason for this is you need to know it is safe to manoeuvre, before you tell other road users that you are about to do it.
- to inform other road users of what you intend to do
- to help all other road users, including pedestrians
- at the correct time, making sure other road users will have time to act upon your signal
Direction Indicators are Signals
You should use the direction indicators to let people know you are going to be changing direction (turning or emerging), overtaking, and changing lanes or if you need to let someone know you are moving off or stopping.
As we covered earlier in this course, it may not always be necessary to signal. Do not signal unless someone would benefit from your signal when moving off and stopping. If there is a car behind you are you intend to stop on the left, let them know by giving a left signal.
Always check your mirrors before signalling.If you are waiting to move off from the side of the road, you should not sit for a long period with your right signal on. Only signal when you are about to move off, this will help others understand what you intend to do. If you sit with your signal on, you are telling other road users that you are about to move off. But if you sit there waiting for a gap you will be confusing the other road users.
It is also not necessary to signal when passing parked vehicles, including buses. You should check your mirrors before moving out and take up an early position when passing parked vehicles. The position of your vehicle will tell others that you are moving past the ones parked up.
Correct Timing Of Signals
You should time your signal correctly,particularly before
- turning or emerging
- overtaking another moving motor vehicle
- changing lanes
Indicating too early can sometimes confuse people,rather than help them. If you intend to take the third road on the left, do not signal until you pass the second road on the left. If you signal too early and there is someone waiting to emerge from the second road, they may think you are turning onto their road and pullout on you.
However, if there is someone driving very close behind you should gently brake so they have some idea of what you intend to do. If you can see the first two roads are completely clear, it may be better to signal a bit earlier, to let the car following you know you are going to be turning soon.
Sometimes it really is about what is happening at that particular time. With experience you will learn to time your signals safely. Common sense does come into play a lot when driving.Always make sure your indicators have cancelled once you have completed your movement. If you leave you indicator on after you have turned, you could confuse other road users.
Signalling With Brake Lights
The brake lights come on when you press the foot brake pedal in your vehicle. Press your foot brake lightly, and early on, to let people behind you know you are slowing or stopping. If you see brake lights ahead of you, check your mirrors before slowing down yourself.
You should check you brake lights are working on a regular basis. Turn on the ignition and use reflections in garage doors and window as you press your foot brake. Even better, ask someone to check your brake lights while you press the foot brake.Keep spare bulbs in the car just in case.
Using The Horn
The horn is a way to let other people know you are there. For instance, if someone is crossing the road and you think they haven’t seen, or cannot see you, using the horn will alert them of your presence.
If you are driving on a country road and there is a blind bend, using the horn could help pedestrians and other road users know you are coming. A couple of short beeps on the horn should be sufficient. This will sound friendlier and has less chance of aggravating someone.
Do not sound your horn aggressively, for instance to tell someone off after they cut you up. You should not use the horn when your vehicle is stationary, unless in an emergency. You should not use your horn in a built up area, between the hours of 11:30pm and 7:00am.
Flashing Your Headlights
You could flash your headlights for the same reason as using your horn. If you need to let someone know you are there, but maybe think they would not be able to hear your horn. Use the headlights instead of the horn during the hours of 11:30pm and 7:00am, when using the horn is not permitted.
Do not flash your headlights to intimidate another driver ahead of you. Do not flash at people to
- let them out
- let them make their own decision.
Do not flash your light to tell people off.
Other drivers may flash their headlights at you for a variety of reason. You cannot read their mind, but try to think about what they may be trying to tell you.
Other drivers may flash their lights to
- invite you to emerge before them
- thank you for letting them through
- let you know that your lights are dazzling them
- warn you of a fault on your car
Make your own mind up about what they are flashing for and know that what you think they are telling you might not be the case.