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Signalling other drivers

Knowing how to signal other drivers is something we all think we know how to do, but over the years we can all slip into bad habits and often fail to do it properly. We all know that we have to do it, but sometimes forget what we are doing it for.

The purpose of any road signal is to warn other drivers of what you intend to do, so that they have enough time to react to your impending manoeuvre. How many times have you seen someone indicate just before they pull out or turn into a side road, causing you to brake suddenly?

Using your indicators

Indicators should be used to warn other drivers that you intend to change direction, NOT that your ARE changing direction. It is of no help to anyone if you get to a junction, brake and then indicate (which is what many people seem to do). Always remember what your driving instructor taught you, Mirror - Signal - Manoeuvre! Braking before you warn the driver behind you defeats the whole object of indicating in the first place.

Also remember to indicate at least 3 or 4 seconds before braking or changing direction. Your fellow drivers will appreciate it.

Brake lights

Your brake lights are activated every time you press the brake pedal. Try to avoid an 'accelerate hard / brake hard' style of driving as it not only gives other drivers less time to react to your braking, it is also a very inefficient way to drive.

Hazard Lights

Turning on your hazard lights causes all the indicator lights on your car to flash. Hazard lights are pretty self explanatory, they should be used to warn other drivers that there is a potential danger on the road.

Examples of situations where you could use your hazard lights:
  • Your car has broken down and is obstructing the road

  • There is an obstacle in your path which you cannot pass e.g. a road accident

  • If your car has an engine problem but you cannot pull over immediately. Obviously if you need to use your indicators, you will have to turn them off

Flashing your headlights

Many people flash their headlights as a signal to say 'ok, go ahead' if someone is turning across their path for example. This can actually be quite dangerous. You have to realise that you are relying on someone else to tell you that it is safe to manoeuvre, but what if they are wrong? Remember that if there is an accident as a result of your manoeuvre, then it will be your fault, and not the fault of the driver that flashed you.

The Highway code states that the only situation where it is valid to flash your headlights, is to make someone aware of your presence, if they haven't noticed you.

Using the horn

Your cars horn should only be used to warn other drivers of your presence, if you think they have not seen you. It should not be used to intimidate other drivers.

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