If you have ever slammed on the brakes because a driver turned without signaling, you already know why it is a dangerous habit. However, it is also illegal not to use a turn signal in Texas. More importantly, failing to use a turn signal could cause a crash and severe injuries.
Anderson Cummings talks about turn signal use in Texas, including liability if violating this law causes a crash.
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Do I Have to Use My Turn Signal in Texas?
In Texas or any western state, you are legally required to use your turn signal. It is also important to mention that it is not enough just to signal. Too many people who do use their signal, do not use this safety feature properly.
For instance, they may switch lanes at the same time they begin to signal. This is one of the ways that drivers who do not signal properly cause car crashes. If you signal at the last second before turning, it does not give other drivers enough notice to respond. This could lead to a crash. In this example of signaling while changing lanes, an approaching driver in the lane you are entering may be unable to avoid hitting your vehicle.
If a crash occurs, you could be held at least partially liable for the damages, and you would also face other legal penalties for violating that traffic law.
What is the Proper Use of a Turn Signal?
As a driver, you are required by law to engage your turn signal while you are 100 feet away from where you are turning. This is required whether you are using a blinker or doing a hand signal.
Penalties in Texas if You Fail to Use a Turn Signal
First-time offenders who get pulled over for not using a turn signal will be ticketed and may receive a fine of up to $200. This fine does not include additional fees that may apply if an accident occurs. Failure to pay this fine could cause the offending driver could be denied renewal of his or her license.
Why is Proper Turn Signal Use Important?
The proper use of turn signals is an easy way to prevent unnecessary crashes and serious harm to others. Not using a signal increases the risk of a crash because other drivers or pedestrians in the area will have a hard time predicting where your vehicle is going.
If you are going straight, for example, you might not be able to avoid hitting a turning vehicle if the driver fails to use a turn signal.
Using a turn signal can help you avoid causing many types of collisions, including:
Merging or Lane-Change Crashes
This type of crash is much more likely to happen if the driver entering the lane does not first indicate his or her intention. Without the proper use of a turn signal, drivers already traveling in that lane may not have enough time to slow down or exit the lane.
Drivers who fail to signal when turning left will be liable for damages if a crash occurs. Oncoming traffic would have no way of knowing the turning driver’s intentions if he or she does not use a turn signal.
Pedestrians, Cyclists and Other Vulnerable Road Users
Pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users could easily walk or travel into the path of your vehicle if you do not signal to indicate if you are turning left or right.
If you are behind a driver who forgets to signal before turning right, it may be tough for you to brake in time to avoid a rear-end crash. In that situation, it is difficult to say whether you would have any liability. While the driver in front can be cited for not using a turn signal, you could also be partially liable for a crash if you were driving too close to that vehicle.
Head-on collisions can happen if a driver fails to signal in a couple of ways. For instance, if two drivers try to head into the same parking spot without signaling their intention, that is one way. A driver changing lanes without signaling could also cause a head-on crash if a driver in the other lane swerves and then loses control of his or her vehicle.
When Do Drivers in Texas Have to Use a Turn Signal
In Texas, drivers planning to turn their vehicles to the left or the right must signal continuously beginning not less than 100 feet away from that intended turn.
Do I Still Have to Signal From a Turn-Only Lane?
Yes, you do. While the drivers of vehicles behind you may know you are in a turn-only lane, oncoming traffic, cyclists and pedestrians may not. This could cause a crash if they unknowingly cross paths with your vehicle.
Who May Be Liable for a Crash Caused by a Failure to Signal?
In most cases, the driver who failed to signal is likely to be held fully liable for the damages. A driver who rear-ends a turning vehicle, however, could be held partially liable for following the vehicle in front too closely.
Proving fault for these crashes can be challenging, and sometimes these incidents may become a “he said, she said” kind of claim.
There is some evidence that could help establish fault for these crashes, however, such as:
- Video footage from a traffic cam, dash cam or bystander’s smartphone
- One or more statements from credible witnesses to the crash
- Recovered black box data may show no turn signal was used
Need Legal Help After a Failure-to-Signal Crash in Texas? We Are Here to Help
Anderson Cummings has staff available 24/7 to take your call. We understand that crashes happen around the clock, not just during normal work hours. Calling right away after a crash can help you get the legal insight you need sooner so you can avoid making costly mistakes with your claim.
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