A Learner Drivers Guide To Car Signals

Published: 09th September 2008
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Your car has numerous signals. These signals allow you to tell other road users (vehicles and pedestrians) what you intend to do. They are a means of communication between fellow road users. Whenever you are driving you should always be on the look out for these signals. However never assume that every signal you see is correctly communicating the drivers intent. Always air on the side of caution. For instance say you are waiting to turn left out of a junction. Another car is approaching from the right with its left side indicator flashing. You could pull out but what if the signal is false or has been activated by mistake. In such situation it is always wise to wait for secondary confirmation such as the car slowing down or starting to make the turn. Reacting incorrectly to signals on your driving test can result in a fail.

Indicators are used to signal that you intend to move out or change direction. When using your indicators you should only signal if necessary. Remember you use signals to inform other road users of your intentions. If there are no other road users in sight you don't need to indicate.

use them in good time allowing other road users adequate time to react to your signal.

avoid using ambiguous signals. For instance if you want to up to the side of the road just after a left turn don't indicate until you are past the left turning or other road users may conclude you intend to turn left.

make sure the indicator is cancelled once the manoeuvre is completed otherwise you run the risk of confusing other road users.

Hazard warning lights exist to warn other road users of a hazard. You should only use them when:

your car has broken down

when your car is temporarily obstructing traffic

while driving on a motorway or dual carriageway to warn other road users os a hazard ahead.

Never use them

when parking dangerously or illegally

Whilst towing.

Brake signal. Whenever you press the brake pedal a rear warning light is activated. This signals to traffic behind you that you are slowing down. Brake lights are coloured red. When driving at night it is important to remember that standard rear lights are also red. Brake lights are brighter than these standard lights but close attention still needs to paid.

Another situation where the brake light can be used to give useful warning is when you are stationary at road works or traffic lights, especially when in low light or low visibility conditions. As a car approaches you from the rear press your brake pedal to activate the brake light. This will warn the driver of your presence.

Reversing signal. Whenever you put the car into reverse gear white reversing lights will come on at the rear of the car.

Flashing your headlights. You should only ever use this to alert other road users of your presence. Flashing your headlights is useful in situation where a beep of the horn wouldn't be heard such as when driving at speed on a busy dual carriageway.

Never flash your headlights to try and intimidate other road users and never flash your headlights to give instructions to another road user i.e. to try and tell another road user that the way ahead is clear. This can be highly dangerous. If this happens to whilst driving you should never assume the signal means drive on. On your driving test is you were to react this way to such a signal you would fail your test.

The horn. This should only be used to alert another road user who you think may not have noticed that you are there. You should not use it aggressively or to tell off another road user. Remember it is illegal to use your horn when you are stationary or in a built-up area between 11.30pm and 7.00am except when another moving vehicle poses a danger to you.

Keeping your car signals in good working order takes only minor car maintenance skills and should be done on a regualr basis.

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