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Always indicate your intention

While you must signal your intentions clearly on the road, it can be tricky. There are no precise laws around when to indicate, and it’s equally important not to use your indicator lights unnecessarily, or leave them on when you’ve finished a manoeuvre to avoid confusing other road users. Indicators should be used to signal any manoeuvre that isn’t moving straight ahead to show you intend to change direction or position on the road. This will include pulling over to the side of the road, changing lanes, overtaking, turning a corner, taking an exit and turning off a roundabout. Forgetting to use your indicators is considered an offence of ‘careless and inconsiderate driving’ or ‘driving without due care and attention’. However, given there are no black and white rules, it’s essential to know when to indicate and timing is all. Whenever you need to make a manoeuvre, always check your mirrors to make sure it is safe, then signal your intentions to other drivers before making your move. Note that signalling does not give you priority so don’t assume other drivers will give you space just because you’ve indicated. Signalling too soon will confuse other motorists as it could suggest you’re changing lanes or making an earlier turn. Only indicate when you are approaching the turn or manoeuvre you wish to make. Remembering to cancel your indicators is just as important. If you keep signalling after your move, other drivers will be expecting you to take another turn or change lanes. If you’re unsure whether your indicators are needed, it is always safer to signal. Mastering the ability to know when you should and shouldn’t indicate comes with experience, and it will be up to you to assess each situation and respond appropriately.

Do a good turn

Failing to correctly and safely indicate when turning near pedestrians could lead to a fine, nine points on your licence and even disqualification. According to the Highway Code, you must always: ‘Warn and inform other road users, including pedestrians, of your intended actions.’ When turning into a side street, if a pedestrian has already started to cross the road you should allow them to cross safely as they have the right of way. Again, you should also be aware of pedestrians who are looking to cross the street, and clearly indicate to let them know of your decision to turn. While failing to indicate is not an offence in itself, should it lead to an incident with a pedestrian or colliding with another road user, it could be deemed careless or dangerous driving. Best advice: always signal your intentions to other road users clearly, including pedestrians. Failing to do so may mean you fall below the threshold of being a careful, competent driver and you could receive a ‘driving without due care and attention’ charge.

Change for the better

Try these little courtesies behind the wheel and you’ll be surprised how they make life on the road more pleasant. For example, try giving way and let other cars out of side streets, leaving enough space for them to merge in front of you at busy junctions. Always indicate in plenty of time, after all, indicators are there to signal an intention not an action, so give other drivers time to react. Acknowledge when someone pulls over to let you through when cars are parked at the side of the road, even if it’s your right of way. Again, give way to more vulnerable road users, regardless of whose right of way it is. Driving courteously doesn’t necessarily increase your journey time and reduces potential stress.

When to indicate

If you are planning to leave a motorway or dual carriageway look out for the display markers in the form of three dashes (300 yards) two dashes (200 yards and one dash (100 yards) from the exit junction. Remember, you must indicate at the 300-yard marker.

Alternatively, if you are planning to merge into a motorway or dual carriageway, you should indicate to the right approximately half way down the slip road as you build up speed and once merged with traffic on the carriageway, cancel your signal.