Turn signal

A difficult to comply with state law requiring drivers to signal all turns and lane changes at least 200 feet before making the movement is poised to be replaced in Senate Bill 124 with a directive that motorists signal all turns and lane changes "a reasonable time" before completing them.

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A quirk in Indiana's turn signal statutes that leaves pretty much every motorist at risk of being pulled over by police at just about any time is poised to be corrected.

Under current law, Indiana drivers are required to use turn signals any time they're about to make a turn or change traffic lanes.

At the same time, the law also mandates the turn signal begin at least 200 feet prior to the turn or lane change, or 300 feet if the vehicle is traveling in excess of 50 mph.

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State Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis, believes the second provision is impossible to comply with in most urban and suburban areas where streets often intersect less than 200 feet apart.

He also said there's no practical way for a driver to signal for 200 feet before, for example, pulling out of a parking lot or making a quick lane change due to a traffic hazard ahead.

To fix that issue, Freeman has filed Senate Bill 124. It replaces the 200 feet (or 300 feet) minimum turn signal distance with a directive that motorists signal all turns and lane changes "a reasonable time" before completing them.

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"The law should be clear in my opinion, and people should know what the law is," Freeman said. "The 200 feet was undoable in a lot of situations."

State Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, said he's concerned if Freeman's measure becomes law that police in different parts of the state might interpret "reasonable" in different ways, perhaps leading to increased traffic stops of minority drivers followed by police requests to search their vehicles.

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In response, Freeman noted nearly every motorist already is violating the 200 feet requirement just about every time they get behind the wheel, so police already have a basis to pull drivers over as a prelude to further investigation if that's their intention.

The Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law is expected to advance the proposal to the full Senate in coming weeks, likely with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2023, to give the Bureau of Motor Vehicles time to revise its driver's guide and license test if the measure becomes law.

This article originally ran on nwitimes.com.


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