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What your Car Lights Signal to Other Road Users?

By: Simon McBride - Updated: 18 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
What Your Car Lights Signal To Other Road Users?

When learning to drive you are taught what each of our lights on our vehicle does but do you remember all of them?


Signalling to other road users, lets them know what you are going to do, this includes pedestrians and cyclists.

You should always be aware that if you do signal and if you do the opposite and not continue with your current manoeuvre then you are putting yourself and other road users into danger.

Actions you should always do, include:

  • Remember to give clear signals and make sure you allow for plenty of time to make these decisions.
  • The main purpose of signalling, is to let other road users know that you will be changing your course of direction, stopping or moving off.
  • When completing a manoeuvre you must cancel your signal after use.
  • You must make sure that your signals are clear and that you should not confuse other road users.

Good Road Manners

It is good road manners to use your lights to signal with care. For example if you need to pull over after you pass a side road then you should not signal until after your vehicle has passed the side road so that you do not confuse other road users. If you indicate earlier then another road user may think that you are signalling to turn into the side road and could pull out in front of you causing an accident. Traffic behind you will be warned that you are slowing by your vehicles brake lights.

You should also do the following when wanting to change your course of direction:

  • You need to take care and watch out for signals given by other road users, you should only proceed when it is safe to do so.
  • You should remember that other motorists may not have cancelled their indication – make sure you don’t dive out in front as you may be involved in an accident if they do not turn off where you thought they might.
  • As specified by the Highway Code you should obey any traffic signals given by a person of authority.

Flashing Headlights

In the UK some motorists may use a flash of headlights to give meaning to a signal. But according to the law of the land and the Highway Code you should only flash your headlights as a signal to let other road users know that you are there. You should not flash your headlights for any other meaning – for example to intimidate other road users into letting you get past. You should never assume that a flash of headlights is a signal to let you proceed, you must use your experience and judgement before you move on.

  • Ensure that all necessary lights are visible and lit between the hours ranging from sunset to sunrise.
  • All motorists should have their headlights turned on at night and fog lights should only be used when you are travelling in foggy conditions. You must turn them off when the visibility improves.

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