Hi again. Last week I was driving along in my personal vehicle, with my two youngest kids sitting in the back enjoying their latest video favorite. We were traveling along a local interstate when a driver in the No. 2 lane decided he needed to be in my lane. Without so much as a glance over his shoulder, the driver changed lanes. I hit my brakes, swerved, and slammed my fist into the horn. I was able to avoid the collision and my two kids learned a few new words in the process something my wife was not too pleased about. The other driver never even acknowledged I was there.
This little incident brought to mind a suggestion made by Carol H. and Fred K., two readers of the Milpitas Post: the use of signals.
Section 22107 of the California Vehicle Code states that "No person shall turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a roadway until such movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after the giving of an appropriate signal..." This means if you want to turn or change lanes you have to signal if that movement will affect another vehicle on the roadway.
The vehicle code even goes so far as to tell you the manner in which you must signal and for how long. Section 22108 of the vehicle code states "Any signal of intention to turn right or left shall be given continuously during the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning." This is not a very long distance if you consider at 30 mph you will travel about 45 feet in
I can imagine that hand signals would throw most drivers for a loop. They are briefly covered when learning to drive, you test on them (I think), then you almost never use them. However, the vehicle code is here to help you again. 22111 CVC states that "All required signals given by hand and arm shall be given from the left side of the vehicle in the following manner: (a) Left turn- hand and arm extended horizontally beyond the side of the vehicle. (b) Right turn-hand and arm extended upward beyond the side of the vehicle, except that a bicyclist may extend the right hand and arm horizontally to the right side of the bicycle. (c) Stop or sudden decrease of speed signal-hand and arm extended downward beyond the side of the vehicle."
The vehicle code is very clear when it comes to the use of signals with regard to turning movements. And even if you were to forget or ignore this fact, there is something that should stand out in your mind when you are driving: courtesy. We have to share the road with other cars, bicycles, motorcycles, and pedestrians. It is important to remember that the simple act of turning on your signal lamp, or a bicyclist using a hand signal, will give others on the road a chance to adjust roadway position and speed, making your turn or lane change a safe one.
If the driver who cut me off had signaled and checked his blind spot, I would not have to de-program my 3-year-old, who spent the rest of the week repeating his newest four-letter word acquisition. Be safe!
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Milpitas Police Department Officer Chris Nicholas of the Traffic Safety Unit can be reached at 586-3200, extension 1166, or email@example.com.