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Report: Drivers who don't use turn signals pose danger on roads

A new study suggests that drivers are repeatedly breaking a traffic law that leads to 2 million car accidents a year. Traffic police tend to overlook it and drivers forget or ignore it. But a new engineering study says the "epidemic" failure to use turn signals is a major American road problem.

The Society of Automobile Engineers found alarming data in what the report's author says is the first study of its kind. Drivers are not using or improperly using turn signals, in some cases almost half the time.

Drivers engaged in a traffic lane change are the worst offenders. Forty-eight percent of lane changers either skip flipping on a turn signal or forget to switch it off. About 25 percent do not use a signal when making a turn.

The engineers added up the number of faulty drivers and estimated that there are 2 billion turn signal violations every day. The study also found that drivers who ignored the "extremely effective" indicators were responsible for more than twice as many crashes each year as distracted drivers.

The engineering report recommends an electronic solution to the problem. A so-called "Smart Turn Signal" would perform the duties a driver is supposed to do. The smarter-than-the-driver signal would shut off a turn signal that was left on too long.

A "Smart Turn Signal" would be more proactive and less expensive that the mechanical device that flips off a turn signal after a driver makes a hard turn. The electronically intelligent signal could time out and shut off after a successful lane change or switch off after sensing when a vehicle has moved into the proper position.

Another function of the "Smart Turn Signal" would detect whether a motor vehicle operator was repeatedly lax about using signals. A neglectful driver would receive a flash warning as a reminder that he was not using the signals sufficiently.

Absent this technology, drivers should be diligent about operating turn signals manually to avoid furthering the increase of a dangerous habit that can cause accidents that injure other motorists.

Source: Bottom Line on MSNBC, "Turn signal neglect a real danger, study shows," Paul A. Eisenstein, May 1, 2012

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