Blinker etiquette: Give drivers a chance to see the blinker blink


By Master Trooper Gary Cutler | Colorado State Patrol

The blinker is the most misused item in a vehicle. It’s a great tool to have when trying to communicate with fellow drivers. What an invention. A system that lets others know what you’re thinking and you don’t have to utter one word or make any other sound. So, why are so many drivers afraid to let others know what they are going to do?

I know there aren’t that many shy drivers out there because I’ve seen a lot of them. They use the horn for everything. Tapping it to say hi, letting someone know the light is green or you cut me off. So, there should be no reason we as drivers should be afraid to use the blinker. I’ve determined there are several categories of drivers out there when it comes to blinkers.

The first group of drivers use the blinker, but don’t give other drivers enough time to react. When you activate your blinker the same time that you turn or change lanes, it doesn’t really give anyone any time to acknowledge your intent and take appropriate action. 

Did you know that the proper and legal way to turn is not to apply your brakes first, but to activate your turn signal first for the direction you are going to turn? By activating your turn signal first, it gives the driver behind you a heads-up that there is a good chance you plan to slow down to make a turn, thus avoiding a crash.

The second group of drivers change lanes and have a full tire width in the new lane and only then activate the blinker. I believe I speak for all drivers when I say by then we have figured out what you are doing so no need to use the blinker. A little more heads-up is what will help.

The third group of drivers are way too fond of their blinker and never seem to turn it off. They drive through intersections with it on. They also have the left blinker continuously showing a left turn when on a highway or interstate, causing other drivers to hang back from passing thinking they are going to turn. If you find that you seem to forget the blinker is on, please check often. Thanks.

The fourth group of drivers are my type of drivers. I call them blinker enthusiasts. They have all of those rules and laws in order and aren’t afraid to let that blinker shine day or night. So, think about this. When a blinker is on, it’s really only on 50 percent of the time, so give every driver a chance to see that blinker blink.

As always, safe travels.