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Signals can mislead: part 1IAM logo

All too frequently a signal is used to warn others of what the driver is doing � a reactive action not a proactive one. The Highway Code advises drivers to signal in order to inform others of their planned INTENTIONS; that is, to provide a visual indication of what they WISH to do. It goes on to advise against poorly timed or misleading signals. The art of good signalling is referred to in all driving literature (IAM, RoSPA Roadcraft etc.). It is described as �posting your intentions� and allows other road users to decide if they wish to accommodate your actions and make an appropriate provision.
The following advice comes from the IAM Advanced Driver�s Manual:

The art of good signalling

Giving the correct signals at the right time and in the right way is an essential part of advanced driving. Visible and audible signals are your main means of communication to warn others of your intentions and presence.
Signals are used to inform other road users, not to give orders to them. A signal never gives you the right to make a move, such as a lane change on a dual-carriageway or motorway, on the assumption that others will give way.
Do not expect other road users to react in the right way to your correct signalling. Another driver may not see your signal, or interpret it correctly, or act on it sensibly. Since you can never be certain that others will recognise your intentions, always drive so that you can change your plans if your signals are ignored.

Direction indicators

Most of the signals you make while driving involve direction indicators. They are used not only when turning left and right, but also before changing your position on the road. Use them thoughtfully and in good time so that other road users know what you are doing and can take action accordingly.
Late signalling or the failure to give a signal at all are among the most common faults you see in day-to-day driving. As an advanced driver make sure you are never guilty of this � but remember that signalling too early can also be misleading.
Avoid thinking that a signal is unnecessary at quiet times of day or night just because few people are about. But indicators can also be used over-zealously.
When driving along an urban road dotted with parked cars, there is no need to signal every time you prepare to pass one. It is unnecessary to signal out of habit at country lane junctions if you really are on your own. Signalling left when you finish overtaking on a motorway is only useful if it benefits other drivers, such as someone in the left-hand lane who may be about to move into the middle lane at the same time as you head for it from the right-hand lane.
Never use one signal to cover two manoeuvres. For example, if you intend to turn left at a junction and then park on the left immediately afterwards, you could confuse a driver behind if you keep the left indicator flashing without a break. In this situation your intentions can be conveyed in various ways: you may have time to interrupt your signal to make the point; you will consider a hand signal before pulling in at the left; you may be able to communicate your plans by adjusting your road position.
In some circumstances self-cancelling stops your indicators when you still need them. Turning right at a roundabout is a common example: having to steer left at the entry to a roundabout often cancels your right-turn signal. With lane changes, of course, you have to cancel the indicators yourself, but so many people forget.

Part 2 in the next issue

In the last issue of the magazine there was an article about cars doing 70 mph and 100 mph and the relative speeds between them when the 70 mph car stops. Trevor Beamond picked up on the mathematics of this. To clarify the situation �
Two cars are travelling down a motorway, one at 70 mph and the other at an illegal 100 mph. If the cars are side by side and brake together then the 70 mph car will stop in seven seconds and have travelled 360 feet. However, the 100 mph car will need ten seconds to stop and will have travelled 733 feet. When the 70 mph car has stopped the 100 mph car will have travelled almost twice as far (667 feet) and will still be moving forwards at 30 mph with another three seconds to go, a further 66 feet to stopping.
Imagine what would happen if the 100 mph car was behind the 70 mph car without a large safety distance between them � the point which was being made.
In general terms, if you are going twice as fast you need four times the stopping distance.

photo of car crash