Who Is At Fault If A Car Signals But Doesn’t Turn?

Who is at fault if a car signals but doesn’t turn? This is a good, common question. It might be yours or my fault, if you know what I mean.

The point of turn signals is to tell other drivers where you are about to go. You’d think you could trust them.

But, this just isn’t the case. The fault might be yours, the other drivers’, or a combination.

It may very well fall on the driver who made an assumption about a turn signal. It’s almost like turn signals don’t count when you have an incident.

Turn signals do not give other drivers any kind of permission to make assumptions. In court, it seems like the actual road laws are what matter.

turn signal

Who is at fault if a car signals but doesn’t turn?

Whose fault it is depends on a lot of variables. The insurance claims adjuster will determine the fault for each particular situation.

The fault might be yours, the other drivers’, or shared.

Note the Traffic Control Devices

Traffic control devices, of course, are things such as traffic lights, stop signs, yield signs, etc.

traffic light turn signals

You can get a few hints about fault by noting the traffic control devices that were present at the time of the collision.

Additionally, you can look at which driver should have yielded to the other, regardless of the turn indicators.

For example, drivers at red lights are required to yield to drivers facing green lights, right?

Say there’s a car that turned right on a red light. It had a crash with a car that was driving straight through a green light.

The driver going straight through the green light would probably be found to be not at fault.

I mean, I am no expert, and do not work in insurance. However, a driver speeding at 200 km/hr through a green light might be found at least partially at fault.

People turning right on a red light aren’t expected to be prepared for a car coming at 200 km/hr. But you are expected to yield to all others.

Turn signals are good things, and BC laws require us to use them before turning. However, you should never trust that just because a car has a turn signal, that it will actually turn.

We simply can not afford this assumption when we are driving.

Traffic laws do not indicate anything about how a turn signal can be your guarantee to take the right of way. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

If these vehicles are actually turning left simultaneously, well that’s fine

But if one of them isn’t actually turning, well that’s a disaster

In the following example, Car 1 is signalling for a right turn, but it is not actually going to turning right.

Car 2 wants to go left.

If Car 2 turns left, and Car 1 crashes into it, the fault will be probably on car 2, although may be shared. 

Car 2 is the one facing a stop sign.

Cars at stop signs are legally required to yield to cars that don’t have stop signs (Car 1).

The fact that the car had a signal, but didn’t turn, may not stand up in the court of law.

The judge may say something like, ‘Drivers who are facing stop signs are required to stop and not to proceed until it is safe. The fact that the car left the stop sign and had a collision indicates that it obviously wasn’t safe…”

Yes, it’s annoying, dangerous, and frustrating; but it’s no good reason to sacrifice your safety. The best thing to do is simply wait and make sure the right turning car is actually turning.

We are usually talking about mere seconds as the difference between taking a huge risk and ensuring your safety 100%.

who is at fault

Try to avoid thinking of things in terms of ‘Who’s fault would it be?’

Rather, try to think of ways that everybody can keep the roads safer. We can do this by being more defensive, and preventing collisions before they happen in the first place.

Then, no one has to deal with the ugly aftermath.

I know that personally I feel like this is the definition of hypocrisy. To expect everyone to use their signals, and to even give them fines or tickets for failing to do so. And at the same time, expecting everyone to not believe anyone else’s signal. I guess that’s just the way it has to be.

Turn signals are little light bulbs that can burn out, too. Sometimes a car will turn without any signal.

Read more:

If a Driver Signalled but Didn’t Turn, Who Is At Fault?

Car Crash – Who’s At Fault?


Carmen became a driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, Canada. She enjoys writing as much as driving, and hopes you have found this website helpful.

8 thoughts on “Who Is At Fault If A Car Signals But Doesn’t Turn?

  1. Perhaps if there was a law for people falsely indicating, there would be less collisions due to drivers negligence.. if you falsely indicate and there is a collision then the blame should lie with the false indicator! An accident wouldn’t of happened otherwise…

    1. But how do we write the guidelines for indicating or falsely indicating? What about when there’s a gas station at the corner of an intersection for example? How are people supposed to know if you are planning to turn into the gas station or at the intersection? Is it the right thing to do to avoid the signal completely avoid confusion?

      1. In my estimation, yes it would be the right thing to do to avoid the signal completely to avoid confusion. They person needing to turn can still slow down enough to make the turn and not cause confusion.

    2. The responsibility is placed higher for who behind. People always blame other instead of themselves. That’s what defensive driving is suppose to be about.

      So, what that they false indicate? They don’t do it on purpose usually unless they are impaired or just recently turn without remembering to shut off.

    3. Very true I had a car crash yesterday on a double mini roundabout where the other vehicle involved was indicating to turn left and she didnt go left meaning she came straight into the front of my car… now if she wasnt indicating left and using the correct signals then there wouldn’t of been a crash… I’m now left without a car airbag burns up my arm and bad whiplash…

  2. Hi, my son got in a car accident the other day. He was going through an intersection and put on his signal to turn left but then changed his mind and kept going straight. He did turn the signal off right away. Another driver making a left at the intersection across from him assumed he was turning and pulled out and crashed into him. The ICBC adjuster says my son is 100 percent at fault as he did not turn his signal off quick enough and the other driver hit him as he thought he was turning. I never trust other drivers signals and its important to make sure its safe to turn. That is the drivers responsibility. Is there something in the drivers book that its law not to blame the driver with the turning signal. I think this ruling is very unfair. The other driver should take some responsibility as he trusted the signal after it was turned off and pulled out anyway causing the crash. Where can I find information on this so I can see if the Adjuster will do another assessment. thanks

    1. Hi, sorry to hear this. That’s the thing, information that would answer your question from ICBC just doesn’t seem to exist… I really don’t know what the answer is sorry. There is only the motor vehicle act which says which driver “should yield” in different situations.

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