If you’re anything like me, you have special names for drivers who don’t use their turn signals, none of which can be repeated here. You know what that stalk is for, and you always use it.

But are you using your signals properly?

In addition to those who never touch the turn signal switch, I also see a frightening number of people who use it incorrectly, which requires me to draw on my vocabulary of nasty names.

In short, the turn signal is used to signal your intentions. 
It’s meant to let other drivers know what you’re going to do before you do it, and it allows them to act appropriately in turn. So when I activate my turn signal several driveways before I get to mine, drivers behind me know that I’ll be slowing down to turn into it. They can let off the throttle and coast, instead of slamming on their brakes at the last minute when I actually slow to make my turn.

But instead of giving other drivers ample warning, many drivers hit the signal at the last minute, after they’ve slowed down, or after they’ve hit the brakes, or halfway through their lane changes. That does nothing to warn other drivers of their intention. At that point, you’re just cutting into the signal bulb’s lifespan for absolutely no reason at all.

The rule is really simple. Any time you move out of your lane or hit your brakes before you activate the turn signal, you’ve done it wrong. Turn signal first, then brake. Turn signal first, then change lanes. No exceptions.

And if you’re stopping on the side of the road? Once you’ve signalled that you’re pulling over, and you’ve come to a stop, shut off the turn signal and activate the four-way flashers. Turn signals are for turning, and four-ways are for when you’re stopped. Other drivers now know what you’re doing, everyone’s safer, and best of all, no nasty names will be hurled at you from behind my windshield.