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Common Mistakes By Florida Drivers

Neglecting the Turn Signal

The law in Florida is pretty clear on how drivers should be handling turning or changing lanes in traffic. You must signal your intent to turn right or left continuously during the possibility of changing direction or lane not less than 100 feet from the vehicle behind you. You may not stop or suddenly decrease the speed of the vehicle without first giving an appropriate signal to the driver of any vehicle around you or immediately in the rear; anything less than that is a moving violation. As such, neglecting the use of your turning signal is actually more dangerous and more prevalent than distracted drivers.

Basic Rules of Driving

Even though using signals is one of the most basic rules of driving, motorists either neglect to use their signals when changing lanes-or fail to turn the signals off- about 48% of the time. When trying to make a turn, the failure rate is 25% of the time. A new study by the Society of Automotive Engineers, state these statistics to prove how this laziness epidemic is worse than distracted drivers. These numbers add up to about 2 billion times a day that drivers fail to use signals or 750 billion times annually. To put things in perspective, that’s an average of 5,000 mishaps a day or an estimated average of 100 crashes each day in every state. That’s more than twice the 950,000 accidents linked to distracted driving, which was the topic of choice at the U.S. Department of Transportation under Sec. Ray LaHood.

Richard Ponziani, P.E., President of RLP Engineering and author of the study stated that this simple and useful technique is extremely effective way to discourage traffic accidents when it comes to people changing directions. This lack of compliance just shows how all drivers must understand that they have an ongoing duty to use their signals, “just as they have a duty to stop at a stop sign or a red light.” There is no reason why motorists should not use their signals. Nevertheless, a poll completed by 1-800 NEED HELP shared reasons as to why people justified not using their signals [1]. These reasons are:

  • They don’t want their access to be blocked. In heavy congestion some drivers illegally fail to signal because they want to maneuver between two other vehicles and the fear of letting the other vehicles know this will cause them to be cut off.
  • They think that turning signals are not needed at least some of the time. Some drivers believe that if there are no other vehicles within their visibility, there is no need to signal. However, this is illegal and drivers who ignore using their signal in this matter risk the possibility of forming a very bad habit.
  • They don’t have enough time. Some drivers state that by the time they realize their turn is coming up, they do not have the time to signal. However, making an unexpected movement to turn while giving no warning to other drivers around can catch other cars off guard. This lack of indication causes accidents.
  • They simply forget. There are distractions all over the road. However, making use of turn signals should be an all-the-time habit. The inclination to use signals will save drivers from the expense and hassle of a traffic ticket and possibly save them from a dangerous accident too [2].

Everybody Makes them but are they Legal?

Another common mistake prevalent in the state of Florida is making legal u-turns. Many drivers have competing opinions when it comes to making u-turns at intersections. Countless believe that they have the right away, when in fact drivers making the turn legally are the last person to make a move. U-turn vehicles should always yield to other vehicles approaching from side roads and cars traveling in the opposite direction. The only exception to this rule is emergency vehicles. Continually, vehicles attempting a u-turn must yield to all approaching vehicles which may be trying to make a right hand turn from that road. People should only try to make a turn when it is clear and safe to do so.

Making Proper U-Turns

In 2007, drivers making improper turns contributed to an estimated 4,300 deaths and injuries on Florida roadways. Furthermore, crashes at intersections cause the most fatalities than any other type of crash location. It’s very crucial to be aware of road signs and indications of a proper turn so that major crashes can be avoided. They best way to be proactive in preventing an auto accident is to:

  • Look left and right for pedestrians, bikes and other cars.
  • If the light is green, wait a few seconds before turning to avoid potential red light runners.
  • If you creep into an intersection and the light turn red, complete u-turn if safe. Do not back up in the turning lane.
  • Never make a u-turn on a curve, hill, or anywhere drivers cannot see you for 500ft.
  • Keep your foot near the brake when turning in case of an emergency stop [3].

The sign is really the main thing you should be looking out for when it comes to making a legal u-turn. Florida law states that a driver of any vehicle may only turn to proceed in the opposite direction if the turn can be completed safely without interfering with the flow of traffic and there is no road sign prohibiting a u-turn. Drivers on interstates and highways may not cross over a divided highway like i75 or the Florida Turnpike unless there is a sign specifically authorizing the turn, otherwise drivers should wait until the next to ensure the safety of all vehicles. If the rules of the road are not followed, the u-turn is ticketed as a non-moving violation.

Fatal Car Crashes Involving an Improper Turn

Being aware of the u-turn law in your state can save you from getting involved in fatal car crashes. In Fort Myers, Stewart Hawley, 55, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana was involved in a fatal accident where a motorcycle was traveling South on San Carlos Boulevard. Hawley was originally traveling North on State Road 865 in a Ford pickup near the Isle of Palms Drive just after 9 on a Saturday night. Edward Cunningham and Laurie Almy of Cape Coral were hit by the truck when he was conducting an illegal u-turn, killing Cunningham at the scene while Almy was hospitalized for severe injuries [4].

In more recent news, the story of 4 Long Island women killed in a u-turn accident made headlines because of the dangerous nature of that specific u-turn. Brittney Schulman, 23, and Lauren Baruch, 24, both of Smithtown; Stephanie Belli, 23, of Kings Park; and Amy Grabina, 23, of Commack along with 4 others, were traveling back from a bachelorette party at a local winery when a pickup truck, driven by Steven Romeo, plowed into the limo they were traveling in. The limo that was driving the 8 women tried to make a u-turn at the intersection of County Road 48 and Depot Lane in the Town of Southold. The limo was turning westbound to go back to Smithtown and did not see the pickup. Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said u-turns at the accident site are not prohibited, but limo drivers have been getting summonses for the way they are making the u-turn. They have to swing out and may be virtually blocking the two westbound lanes as they turn around-making it a very dangerous area [5].

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA

Unfortunately, cases as the ones described could be avoidable if drivers followed the traffic laws of their state. Even so, making a u-turn is very risky if drivers do not take the proper cautionary measures. We have all been there. We’ve made a mistake in directions and realize that we must turn around, so we look for the closest area to turn. However, u-turns can be extremely hazardous if not authorized or followed safely. Coming across a driver on the road that isn’t using their signals can also be very frustrating and simply dangerous. Being so careless puts many people in danger and all for the laziness of one person over another. If you or anyone you know has been in an auto accident due to a negligence driver making a u-turn or due to another driver because they didn’t use their turn signals, please call the attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for a free consultation at (727) 451-6900.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765


[1] https://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112527235/turn-signal-neglect-a-continuing-problem-in-the-us/
[2] https://business.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/05/01/11486051-turn-signal-neglect-a-real-danger-study-shows
[3] https://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pubs/811059.pdf
[4] https://www.nbc-2.com/story/27995313/fhp-improper-u-turn-causes-fatal-crash#.VvLyRnqfgik
[5] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/limo-crash-kills-four-bridesmaids-on-long-island-drunk-driver-arrested/