Essential Skills Signalling and Use of Signals

Using your driving mirrors regularly and sensibly is vital to safe and defensive driving. When driving, you need to keep alert to what is happening behind you all the time you are driving. As a driver, you should get into the habit of glancing frequently in your interior or rear view mirror to monitor the movement of traffic behind your vehicle, so that you are never caught out by vehicles, tricycles (keke) and motorcycles overtaking you unexpectedly.

It is important to use your mirrors well before your intended driving action. This is neces

In our day-to-day living we often have to communicate with other people. For instance, we communicate with others every time we go into a shop, meet a friend or make a telephone call. Effective communication requires the clear use of a language that is easily understood by all involved. Generally speaking, we don’t know the other people on the road around us. Despite this fact, we trust our safety to these strangers every time we drive. Pedestrians are even more vulnerable to the potential actions of strangers in vehicles. We warn children about the dangers of talking to strangers, but when we are driving, talking to strangers is essential. 

When driving, the language we use takes the form of signalling with indicator lights, hazard warning lights, brake lights, flashing headlights, arm signals, the horn, reversing lights, fog lights, and headlights. These signalling devices are used by a driver to communicate to other road users what they intend to do.

Bearing in mind the fact that we know nothing about those with whom we are communicating with on the road it is especially important that our signalling ‘language’ is clear and unambiguous. As a driver, you should give signals if they will help or warn other road users. Your signals must not be misleading. 

Your signals must be given in good time before you start your manoeuvre – turning right or left, overtaking, changing lane, etc and for long enough for their meaning to be clear to other road users. Signalling too soon can confuse rather than help, for instance, when there are several side roads very close to each other. Signalling too late can cause vehicles behind you to brake hard or swerve. A signal might not be necessary where there is no one to benefit from it, or where the signal could confuse other road users. You should consider whether a signal is necessary before:

– Moving off

– Pulling up

– Passing stationary vehicles

Giving appropriate signals at the correct time and place and correctly interpreting the signals of other road users are important for the safety of all road users. The various legitimate ways of ‘talking’ or communicating to other road users are explained below:

Indicator Lights

Direction indicator lights are amber in colour and are fitted at the front, rear and sides so that other road users can clearly see them. The most common way to signal your intentions is by the use of your direction indicators. To help others to make sense of your indicators you need to use them early; this will allow enough time for your intentions to be clearly understood. You use your indicators to show an intended change of direction, whether turning left or right or moving out into traffic.

You only need to use your indicators if other road users (vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians) are visible.

Use them in good time, giving other road users plenty of time to react and adapt to your signal. Once you have completed the manoeuvre make sure the indicator has cancelled otherwise you may confuse other road users.

The rules below apply to all signals but are especially important for direction indicator signals. Signals must be given:

– Where necessary (if another road user will benefit from a signal, then you must give one)

– Correctly (you should only use the signals shown in the Highway Code)

– In good time (not too early or too late)

– Without misleading others (you need to consider how your signals will affect other drivers)

To be continued

Stephen K. Dieseruvwe

Director General, Delta State Traffic Management Authority (DESTMA)

**Driver Trainer and Road Safety Consultant


**Tel: +2348167814928

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