The next time you are driving, count how many times you see, your fellow drivers fail to use their car turn signals while changing lanes. Chances are you will likely come across a driver or two who fail to use their turn signal shortly after you get on the road.
According to a study done by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), almost half of all drivers either don’t use their car turn signal to change lanes or neglect to turn off the turn signal after doing so. The researchers observed the actions of 12,000 drivers on public roads and found that 48% of them failed to use their car turn signals before making a lane change.
This data backs up a survey conducted by Response Insurance, a national car insurer, in which 57% of drivers admitted to not using their car turn signal when changing lanes. According to the study, the worst offenders were among drivers ages 18 to 24, who admitted to not using their turn signal 71% of the time.
These are shocking numbers! Mainly, because drivers who fail to use their car turn signals cause a countless number of accidents on the roadway throughout Washington State.
Many Washington State drivers wonder when they need to use their car turn signal? Do they need to use it every time, even if they are in a turn only lane?
In December 2019, the Washington State Supreme Court clarified when drivers should be using their car turn signals and unanimously ruled that all drivers must use their signal every time they turn or change lanes on the road. Washington’s Supreme Court justices emphasized that the use of turn signals is essential to public safety and that they not only provide safety for drivers but all other people on the road as well.
This ruling was issued in the case of David Brown. In the spring of 2015, he was arrested for driving under the influence in Kennewick, WA. Washington State Patrol officers pulled Brown over after he briefly turned on his left turn signal while approaching a stoplight in a designated left turn-only lane but turned the signal off and did not reactive it while at the light or while completing the turn. State troopers pulled Brown over for the misuse of his turn signal, but subsequently, he was arrested for DUI.
The case was initially dismissed after a Benton County District Court judge found out that Brown was not legally required to reactivate his turn signal while in the turn-only lane, and that troopers had no reason to stop him initially. After much debate between the Superior Court and the Court of Appeals, the state of Washington appealed to the Supreme Court, later resulting in the new ruling, which was just recently put into effect.
RCW 46.61.305 says:
According to current Washington State law, drivers must use their turn signal whenever they are making a lane change, even if they are in turn only lanes.
Your turn signal should be activated and stay on at least 100 feet before changing lanes or making a turn in Washington State.
Yes, using your turn signals are required by law, and drivers can be issued a ticket for failing to signal with a fine of $139.
In Washington State, a traffic ticket for failing to signal or improper lane usage is considered a moving violation. If you pay the ticket, it will go on your driving record and impact your insurance rates.
Here at Garguile Law, our team specializes in fighting traffic ticket cases in dozens of courts across the Greater Puget Sound region, and our success rate for keeping traffic infractions from affecting the driver’s insurance rates is unmatched. If you have recently received a traffic ticket for failing to signal or improper lane usage in Pierce, King, Snohomish, Kitsap, Thurston, or Lewis counties, be sure to give our law firm a call today at to get a free case evaluation.
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