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Why aren’t laws requiring turn signal use enforced?

Brian Freskos

It’s not that they don’t get enforced, they just don’t get enforced all the time.

“It really comes down to manpower,” said Cpl. J.J. Brewer, public information officer for the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office. “Not using their turn signal is not enough of an infraction to make a traffic stop every time it happens.”

Law enforcement departments are commonly spread thin, forcing officers to prioritize. Brewer said there’s concern that if an officer or a sheriff’s deputy was constantly engaged in traffic stops over minor infractions, they would be unavailable to respond to more urgent and life-threatening incidents.

The state statute governing turn signal use, provided by the N.C. Highway Patrol, says, “The driver of any vehicle upon a highway or public vehicular area before starting, stopping or turning from a direct line shall first see that such movement can be made in safety…and whenever the operation of any other vehicle may be affected by such movement, shall give a signal as required in this section, plainly visible to the driver of such other vehicle, of the intention to make such movement.”

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Mike Addy

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6 Responses to “ Why aren’t laws requiring turn signal use enforced?”

  1. On August 26, 2010 at 3:13 am Jay wrote:

    The law concerning turn signals clearly states that by failing to use a turn signal it has to affect the normal flow of traffic. It is usually only enforced if someone is involved in a traffic accident, and the charge is usually a safe movement violation.

  2. On November 14, 2010 at 11:42 am M ary Lou wrote:

    The intersections showing “an arrow to go straight OR a Turn arrow” are extremely dangerous!
    Most often drivers DO NOT use signals in Wilmington–changing lanes without signaling is the norm! New Hanover County has far too many accidents relating to failure to signal.

    If there were a Public Announcement via TV, radio and newspapers to the effect that Law Enforcement would be cracking down on drivers who fail to signal (as they do periodically for seat belt use, DUI)just the IDEA that a ticket will be issued may cause drivers to be more careful.

    It is a major problem in Wilmington.

  3. On June 4, 2011 at 9:30 pm Roy Jenks wrote:

    A shortage of officers explains the lack of enforcement of turn signal laws but it does not explain why police officers are not required to adhere to these laws. If the laws were enforced the fines could pay for increased man power on the police force.

  4. On June 4, 2012 at 11:57 pm Roy Jenks wrote:

    Now that the Society of Automotive Engineers has conducted research and found that two million crashes a year can be attributed to not using turn signals, will it change the low priority that is given to the enforcement of turn signal laws? They actually concluded that the violation of turn signals is more dangerous than texting.

  5. On November 3, 2016 at 12:35 am Geno Mears wrote:

    I have driven in many states, and the lack of turn signals here in Wilmington is more pronounced than just about anywhere. I see people claim it is a minor infraction. One could argue that speeding is a ‘minor infraction’. Not using a seat belt would more than likely only hurt ME, not my fellow drivers, and THAT law is enforced. I think it is VERY dangerous and terribly rude. I can’t mention the times I have waited for a car coming from my left that eventually turned down the street where I was waiting. I think the problem stems from cell phone usage and not being able to reach that little pole with a phone and your left arm on that phone. So now you have a double whammy of danger. I would encourage law enforcement to enforce this law – put some cash in the road fund. Once word gets out that tickets are being distributed, I can promise you that there will be more compliance. This also makes the roadways safer and happier places.

  6. On March 27, 2017 at 1:22 am Gary Zimmer wrote:

    There should be a law…again, there should be a law that makes it against the law….to not enforce a law. If an officer see’s someone break a law….it is his job to enforce the law! Pretty basic…then if he gets a domestic violence call…that takes precedence. Simple stuff!

    If they are GOING TO a more serious violation then don’t stop someone for not signaling a turn…but, if you AREN’T at the moment, going to a rape, murder, house invasion…which most of the time they’re not….then enforce the DAMN law! Again, simple stuff!

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