I am often asked, “Why do the police refuse to enforce the law on the use of turn signals?” That is a fair question, but not totally accurate.
Law enforcement agencies do not typically ‘refuse’ to enforce this law; it is simply a matter of prioritizing our efforts. However, that does not mean that it is not against the law, and just as importantly, it causes confusion to the rest of us sharing the roadway.
In Florida, you are, as a matter of law, required to signal in advance when you intend to turn your vehicle from direct course that affects other motorists. This can be accomplished by one of two ways: use of the turn signal that your vehicle came with, or hand signals. Obviously, hand signals are much more cumbersome to use and the signals would have to be memorized, so your blinkers are the most productive means of signaling.
Florida State Statute 316.155 states: “No person may turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a highway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety, and then only after giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided, in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.” This signal shall be given not less than 100 feet prior to the turn and continuously. Notice the law refers to a “vehicle.” If you recall from previous articles, this includes other modes of travel on the highways such as bicycles.
It is your responsibility to know the law, and to operate under these legal principles. In Bartow, we enforce all of the traffic code as well as the criminal code, so play it safe and follow the law.
Joe Hall is the chief of the Bartow Police Department.