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How to communicate your intentions with other road users

Communicating your intentions with other drivers and pedestrians on the road creates a friendly and safe driving environment for everyone. Here are some important benefits of good communication:

  • The other road users can predict what you are going to do and be prepared and respond safely to your maneuvers.
  • Avoid any confusion and, subsequently, a potential accident.
  • You can alert them about a hazard or traffic situation to avoid accidents.

The communication devices of your car include: turn signals, brake lights, hazard lights, a flash of the headlights, and the horn. Sometimes you may communicate by waving or nodding.

• Turn Signals
Use turn signals every time you turn or change lanes.

• Brake Lights
Any time you brake, your brake lights come on to communicate with other drivers that they need to slow down. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your brake lights are working properly.  If you see a hazard ahead that you need to slow down, start slowing down early, so you allow the drivers behind you to be prepared and also slow down in a timely manner.

• Hazard Lights
Use these to warn drivers of trouble with your car or a hazard ahead

• Headlights
These should be used at night and during poor weather conditions; flashing your headlights is a way of communicating with another driver.

• Horn
Use your horn to warn other drivers of a potential hazard; a short honk is usually enough to get the attention of a driver.

Using Turn Signals
Always use your turn signals in order to create a friendly and safe driving environment for all road users. Remember to cancel your signal after turning.

Signal every time:

  • at least 100 ft. before turning left or right, switching lanes, changing directions, slowing down or stopping or pulling over.  Caution! Even though you signal, do not automatically assume the space you want to occupy is clear.
  • at least 5 seconds before changing lanes on the freeway.
  • before pulling away from a curb or exiting a parking space.
  • even when you do not see other vehicles.  A vehicle you do not see may suddenly appear and hit you.
  • your turn signals do not work; use hand signals before turning or changing lanes. Use both hand signals and turn signals if bright sunlight makes it hard to see your signals.

Using Hand Signals

  • Left Turn: The hand signal for a left turn is your left arm straight out to the side with your palm facing the ground.
  • Right Turn: The hand signal for a right turn is your left arm bent at a 90-degree angle with your hand pointing up.
  • Stop: The hand signal for a stop is your arm bent at a 90-degree angle with your hand pointing down.