Miami Drivers Need a New Direction on Turn Signals

Nowadays, even base models of vehicles are coming with some pretty fancy technology. Bluetooth capabilities, back-up cameras, lane departure warnings, and adaptive cruise control are just a few examples. These kinds of features are designed to help motorists stay safe. There's another customary automotive safety technology that’s been around for almost a century, yet Miami drivers seem to be struggling with it: the turn signal.

The flashing turn signal (a.k.a the blinker or directional light) has been a standard safety feature on cars since 1939. It was designed to prevent collisions and reduce road rage by allowing drivers to indicate their intentions. Florida law says that motorists turning right or left or changing lanes must signal their intention to do so not less than the last 100 feet traveled. Despite the fact that it’s illegal to not use turn signals, many Miami drivers treat blinkers as optional equipment; but when a driver doesn't indicate a lane change or a turn, it can cause confusion --- and crashes.

Two million collisions occur each year in this country as a result of turn signal neglect while distracted driving causes less than half that number. In a recent observation of 12,000 vehicles, automotive engineer Richard Ponziani calculated that drivers change lanes without signaling 48 percent of the time and make a turn without the signal 25 percent of the time. That is equivalent to two billion times each day. This study was conducted in the Midwest, and Ponziani thinks that the numbers in Miami would be even higher where drivers are a mix of tourists unfamiliar with the streets, elderly motorists, and people from other countries who are just learning the rules of U.S. roads.

Miami drivers are so well-known for failing to use directional lights that there are theories among scholars and comedians about why drivers in South Florida neglect to signal. One University of Miami professor postulates that not letting another driver into a lane is more common behavior among males and not using the signal is an “affirmation of manhood.” Is signaling a sign of weakness? Does the turn signal mean you aren't a strong enough driver to just wedge your way into another lane without warning?

Miami drivers are notorious for failing to use their blinkers to signal a turn or lane change, even though it’s illegal. Directional lights reduce road rage and prevent collisions. One study puts the number of crashes due to turn signal neglect at twice as many as those due to distractions.

Driving is treated differently across the globe. For example, Germany is a country that takes the activity so seriously that German car manufacturers Audi and BMW were actually the last to install cup holders under the belief that drivers should not be doing anything that could take their attention away from the road. Americans are drinking coffee, having conversations on the phone, sending texts, eating burgers, checking social media, and more while behind the wheel -- apparently unaware of or in denial about the risks of distracted driving. Distraction is possibly one reason many people aren't using their blinkers: they simply don't have enough hands.

How can we fix this problem? There is talk of future cars having audible reminders, similar to the seat belt reminder in present-day vehicles, and we've all heard the rumblings of the driverless cars that communicate with each other so as to remove the human degree of error. For now, we have digital highway signs reminding drivers that turn signals are not optional. It's not just a courtesy, and it's not just the law. It's a life-saving preventative technology that is simple to use.

We Can Help

If you or someone you love has been injured by a careless or negligent motorist, you need an experienced attorney to effectively represent your interests. As one of South Florida's most respected and oldest law firms, Stabinski Law has helped many people sort out their legal rights, responsibilities, and remedies. For 45 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless traffic collision victims, and we are highly experienced in handling a wide range of auto and truck accident cases. We also work on a contingency basis, which means that if there is no recovery, there is no fee or cost to you. If you wish to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 305-964-8644-3100 or filling out a case evaluation form.

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