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The Yankee Express

The Rules of the Road

By Chief 
Steven J. Wojnar
Dudley Police 
Rules of the road are always popular questions for me. One consistent topic is the proper use of turn signals. Many express frustrations at driver’s who fail to use these when necessary. I was asked if I could provide some information for readers on this subject. 
The use of turn signals is contained in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 14B. It states in part, “Every person operating a motor vehicle, before stopping said vehicle or making any turning movement which would affect the operation of any other vehicle, shall give a plainly visible signal by activating the brake lights or directional lights or signal as provided on said vehicle…” A violation of this law carries a $25 civil fine. The key phrase in this part of the law is “affect the operation of another vehicle.” This would imply a signal would be unnecessary if other vehicles are not on the road. As an example, if you are driving home at 4 am and there are no other vehicles on the road, it would not be necessary to activate your turn signal prior to entering your driveway. Although this can occur, it is a good practice to use signals whenever you are turning, regardless of the conditions. Whenever other vehicles that may be affected by your turn are present, the rule of signaling applies. 
If signals or brake lights are not functioning or if they are not present on a vehicle for some reason, the operator is to use hand signals. These are described in the following way: “An intention to turn to the left shall be indicated by hand and arm extended horizontally, an intention to turn to the right shall be indicated by hand and arm extended upward, and an intention to stop or decrease speed shall be indicated by hand and arm extended downward.” Since most of us only used these during our initial driver training, they are often ignored or forgotten. These are still legal, useful, and important.  
The decision to use turn signals really should not be based on whether there are other travelers on the road. People should train themselves to use them whenever they are making a turn or changing lanes. It is always better to exercise caution. Without your immediate knowledge, a vehicle could be exiting a parking lot or driveway. They may see you before you notice them. You have a greater chance of avoiding a collision when turn signals are used. There is no harm in using them. The important thing to remember is fewer accidents and injuries can occur if signals are used at the appropriate times.
For those still seeking vaccination or COVID related information, it can be found at or by calling 508-949-8036. During these challenging times, we, at the Dudley Police Department, greatly appreciate the support we receive from our community. 
Thanks again for your questions and comments. Please send them to me at the Dudley Police Department 71 West Main St. Dudley, Ma. 01571 or email at [email protected]. Opinions expressed in this weekly column are those of Chief Wojnar only and unless clearly noted, do not reflect the ideas or opinions of any other organization or citizen.