Lane change signal

Ask The Traffic School Instructor: Signal For Lane Change

Question: Is it common to get pulled over for changing lanes without a turn signal?

Answer: It’s hard to tell if law enforcement officers routinely stop motorists for failing to signal for a lane change. In looking at the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) Uniform Traffic Citation Statistics for 2013, there’s no specific mention in the statistics of failure to signal for a lane change. However, there are statistics on citations issued for improper lane change. In 2013, there were 51,898 citations for improper lane change reported to the FHP. Those 51,898 citations only  make up two percent of the total of all citations issued for moving offenses.

Even if we were to add the 185,192 citations issued for careless driving and the 28,965 citations issued for improper turns, that would only make up eleven percent of the total number of tickets given. So, apparently, it’s not a common occurrence. That being said, Florida law does require motorists to signal for a lane change when they are changing lanes.

There used to be some confusion about the law because, when it was originally passed, the law referred to changing direction from a direct course. Some law enforcement officers interpreted that to mean a signal was required when making a left or right turn but not necessarily when changing lanes. I actually heard a police officer tell a class that turn signals weren’t required when changing lanes. In 2009, the Florida State Legislature cleared up that confusion by adding the wording “or move left or right upon a highway.”

One of the biggest driving pet peeves I hear from drivers in my classes is the failure of other drivers to use a turn signal. No matter how the law is written, it’s just good common sense to always signal your intentions whenever you change directions; whether you’re making a 90 degree turn or moving from one lane to another. Communication between motorists is critical to driving safety and it takes such little effort to hit that turn signal switch.

If you want to check out the law yourself, read: Chapter 316.155 When signal required