Report: Turn-Signal Neglect Causes Millions of Crashes a Year

A first-of-its-kind study into the impact of not using turn signals estimates that neglect of the device helps cause millions of crashes a year. The report was authored by an executive from a company that holds patents on technology that automatically operates turn signals for drivers

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recently published a report that studied 12,000 vehicles observed either using a signal or neglecting to use one. According to the report, motorists fail to use their signal when changing lanes 48 percent of the time. When turning, drivers neglect their turn signal 25 percent of the time.

Researchers extrapolated their data to conclude that “the collective result of turn-signal neglect is as many as 2 million crashes per year” and drivers ignore using their signals when they should be using them 2 billion times a day.

“Each incident of neglect elevates the risk of a multivehicle crash,” researchers said in a statement.

The report’s authors framed signal neglect as a public safety issue in the same vein as distracted driving, citing federal statistics that show driving distracted leads to 950,000 collisions annually.

The SAE report was published toward the end of April, billed by federal officials as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Coinciding with political events like a national summit on distracted driving in Texas, several studies were published last month, including two from State Farm, focusing on distracted driving and the hold it has on younger motorists. Other federal statistics find that teenage drivers are more likely than other age groups to be involved in fatal crashes where distraction is reported.

Parents who want to obtain cheap car insurance for young drivers in their households will have a hard time doing so, since inexperienced motorists are charged higher insurance premiums. Last month’s reports on distracted driving added to a growing pile of research linking younger motorists with riskier roadway habits.

But young or not, all motorists will have a hard time finding lower insurance rates if they have marks on their driving record like collisions and accidents. More at-fault crashes on your record, whether they happened because you failed to use signals or drove while distracted, will inevitably lead to higher insurance rates. Authors of the SAE report said that solely focusing on crash statistics shows that turn-signal neglect “is actually a more significant safety issue” than distractions behind the wheel.

“The turn signal is one of the very original automotive crash prevention devices, and this simple driver-to-driver communication device remains extremely effective, but only when it is accurately displayed as required by law,” Richard Ponziani, president of RLP Engineering, said in a statement. “The turn signal can no longer be considered ‘optional,’ and all drivers have an ongoing duty to use it, just as they have a duty to stop at a stop sign or at a red light.”

About Matthew Morisset
Matthew Morisset is a proud alumnus of the University of Redlands, where he obtained a degree in English Literature. Utilizing his passion for analysis and writing, Matthew looks for important trends in the auto insurance industry and their implications for consumers and the market as a whole.

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