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.
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
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%.
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.
Carmen C. is the founder of DrivingInstructorBlog.com After becoming an ICBC-GLP (Graduated Licensing Program) driving instructor at the age of 22, she worked for about 8 years teaching driving lessons in beautiful North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
In 2012 she decided to pour her knowledge into a website and share this information with the world! 🌎 She no longer teaches, but enjoys writing and maintaining this blog, creating abstract art when inspired, and photography.