It’s “Mirror-Signal,” NOT “Signal-Mirror,” Despite Bad Advice for 100 Years!

Have you ever seen a vehicle ahead of you veer sideways because another vehicle started a lane-change or a turn after giving a signal far too late or no signal at all?

Yes, of course.  Many of us throughout the U.S. see such incidents every day.

Because of this situation, all motorcyclists and many car drivers are very leery, for good reason, when a signal suddenly starts flashing on a nearby vehicle.  They know all too well that the driver may start his lane-change (or a turn) immediately, and bikers in particular may veer away immediately to protect themselves from this danger, but doing so can then endanger the biker!  Part of the reason this situation happens so often is that Americans have been taught a crucial driving technique incorrectly…… To put it bluntly, American drivers have been taught yet another example of dangerous garbage!  (No, we are not trying to be offensive by using comments like that; we are trying to protect American citizens better!)

Research paper: State Drivers’ Manuals Can Kill Your Kids!

All American drivers have invariably been taught to signal then check the mirror, but as the above paragraphs show, this method can, and frequently does, cause at least anger and in many cases danger — whether from collisions or road rage.

If you used “signal — mirror” technique in most other countries you would never even be able to pass the relevant driving test because it is such an inconsiderate and risky practice!

A dramatically safer and more thoughtful method is this:

.                  Yes, okay…. Maneuver! {:-)
  1. MIRROR first!  Check that it is safe to actually give a signal (i.e. without scaring the bejeezus out of a driver or motorcyclist who is coming up alongside your vehicle, or even a bicyclist on your right if traffic is moving slowly!).  This means that the mirror check needs to be done in plenty of time — and more than once, if necessary.
  2. SIGNAL at a suitable distance before the turn or lane-change you wish to make.  This distance varies in relation to your speed so if anyone ever tries to tell you to use a physical distance, such as 100 feet, just ignore them (and anyway, do you think that you could accurately point out 100 feet every time?  Not many people can, at all).  You must not signal for a turn so early that it could cause confusion about you turning into another intersection (etc.) earlier than the one you want.  Wherever possible, your signal should flash at least 4-6 times before a turn and definitely at least that many times before you start to make a lane-change!  If you are worried about others not letting you in, don’t be — someone eventually will, and all you need do to stop this being a problem is to make lane changes in plenty of time so that a few inconsiderate drivers can’t be a serious problem to you; just let them go by.

The full sequence of actions to stay safe when handling any change of direction (at an intersection or obstruction) or a lane-change is based on “Mirror, Signal, Maneuver” (meaning the turn, lane-change, etc.).  There is a second part to this sequence, which breaks down that word “maneuver” into its component actions, but that will follow later in a separate blog post.

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Author: EddieWren

Eddie Wren is the CEO and Chief Instructor at Advanced Drivers of North America. His driver safety background is given at: http://www.advanceddrivers.com/ceochief-instructors-resumecvbio/

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