Official Drivers Ed Direct Website

Complete Guide to Turn Signals

Driving School How To - Turn Signals

Join Instructor Alejandra while she goes over just about everything you could ever need or want to know about turn signals and signaling. Using your blinkers is fundamental to safe driving because they communicate to other road users that you plan to change lanes or make a turn. In this video you'll learn the how, what, when, where, and why of turn signals!

Turn Signals DMV Test Tips

Signaling is essential for making much safer roadways, but you also will be scored on your turn signal use during your drive test! So let's take a quick look at basic test turn signal tips:

1. Pre-Drive DMV Test Questions

As part of the pre-drive checklist, you will have to demonstrate you can do your arm signals, a.k.a. Hand Signals. The 3 hand signals are:

  • Left Turn: Extend your arm straight out of the driver's side window.
  • Right Turn: Extend your arm out of the driver's side window and bend it upward at the elbow.
  • Slow or Stop: Extend your arm out of the driver's side window and bend it downward at the elbow.

2. Curbside Parking

  • Before pulling up to or away from the curb, turn on your turn signal.
  • After pulling up to or away from the curb, turn off your turn signal.

3. Turns

  • When you approach a turn, switch on your turn signal at least 100 feet before the turn. Also, be mindful to not signal so early that other drivers mistake where you are turning.
  • And after you complete a turn, be sure to cancel your signal if it has not turned off automatically.

4. Lane Changes

  • Signal before making a lane change.
  • And cancel the turn signal after finishing a lane change.

Turn Signals with Instructor Alejandra, Video Transcript

Hey everybody, it's driving instructor Alejandra with Drivers Ed Direct and I'm here to tell you everything you need to know about how to use your turn signals in about 5 minutes. Let's go!

Turn signals. Blinkers. Whatever you call them, using them is such a simple thing to do and one of the easiest ways to be a courteous driver. They let other drivers around you know what your intentions are, and that makes driving easier for everybody.

Your turn signal control is this lever here which operates your blinkers, and other things like your headlights. You should be able to extend a finger (or two) to activate the turn signal while keeping both hands on the wheel. You've got 2 basic options when signaling: signal left and signal right. To signal left, you push the lever down. To signal right, you push the lever up. An easy way to remember this: just push the lever with your left hand in the direction you will be moving the steering wheel. Down for left, like this. And up for right, like this.

As you can see on the dashboard, the signal light indicator blinks and makes a ticking sound while your turn signal is on. Left signal... and Right signal.

In what situations should I use my turn signal, you ask?

Anytime, and I mean anytime you plan on changing directions:

  • Signal before making a turn
  • Before making a lane change
  • Before pulling to or away from the curb
  • Before pulling into a driveway
  • When you're in parking lots: when you make turns and before pulling into a parking spot
  • You also signal when merging on and off the freeway

When should I put on my turn signal?

Great question! You want to put on your signal a minimum of 100 feet before your turn. What the heck is 100 feet? It's about 6 car lengths or a third of a football field. However, if you are travelling at higher speeds, like the freeway or on a multilane highway, you want to signal even earlier. The faster you're travelling, the sooner you should be signaling.

For most lane changes, put your signal on for a few seconds before you attempt to change lanes -- alerting drivers to your intention to move over. At faster freeway speeds, the DMV recommends signaling for at least 5 seconds before you attempt to change lanes.

In short, you want to signal early enough so that drivers around you have enough time to recognize what your intentions are.

One pro move is knowing when to signal for a right turn when there is a driveway directly before the intersection... like this. If I put my turn signal on too soon, other drivers may think I am going to turn into the driveway, but I am actually aiming to turn at the intersection. In this situation, I will wait until I am at the driveway before activating my signal. This will decrease confusion for other drivers!

What about turning OFF your signal?

Well, this usually happens automatically whenever you finish any turn. After you complete a lane change though, you will need to manually return the signal to the center position, like this.

But Alejandra, what if my turns signals quit working?!

First of all, most cars will give you a nice heads up when your turn signals need to be replaced. If you notice the indicator light on your dash blinking more rapidly than normal (you may also hear the ticking sound get quicker too), your signal light is out and you need to replace it. In the meantime, you can employ your good-old hand signals to let other drivers know what directions you are heading:

  • Hand straight out the window for a left-turn
  • Raised hand in the air for right-turn
  • And hand down towards the ground for stopping

Finally, some students ask me about signaling when it comes to a curved road.

In general, you DON'T signal when you are just following a natural curvature in the road. Just imagine if you were driving on a canyon road and you signaled at every twist and turn. Not only would that be tedious, but it might also confuse drivers behind you who may think you are pulling over onto the shoulder or into a driveway.

Well friends, that pretty much sums up everything you need to know about signaling. We may not have solved world peace today, but I guarantee that we can make this world a much safer, friendlier place if we just learn to use our turn signals every time we change directions.

Please take a quick second to like and subscribe if you haven't already. With my left signal on and ready to pull away from the curb, this is Alejandra from Drivers Ed Direct wishing you guys the best and hoping to see you back here very soon...