Essential Skills of Driving: Signalling and Use of Signals

    By Stephen Dieseruvwe
    ……Continue from last week

    Arm Signals

    You can give arm signals when mechanical signals, such as direction indicators or brake lights have failed. You do this by extending your right arm through the side window, to indicate that you are stopping or slowing down, turning or moving right, and turning or moving left. See photo of arm signal.

    Although arm signals are rarely used nowadays, there are certain situations when an arm signal can be really useful to confirm a signal given by your indicators. For instance:
    – A left turn arm signal emphasises that you are turning left and not just passing a parked car.
    – A slowing downing arm signal makes your intention clear when you want to show you are pulling in to the kerb, not turning right.
    – A slowing down arm signal is clearly visible when your indicators are hard to see because of strong sunlight

    Arm signals are useful to ‘get you home’ in the event of signal or brake light failure. It is an offence to drive with defective signals or other lights. Make sure that you make regular checks and carry spare bulbs in your vehicle. Apart from being useful in the event of bulb failure, you need to know your arm signals in order to understand signals given by cyclists and motor cyclists.

    The Horn
    The horn is one of the most misused items on the car. The horn is a warning signal and as such it must be used early enough to be of use. Use of the horn should be limited to warning other road users, who have failed to see you, of your presence. Avoid aggressively sounding the horn.

    Whilst driving you should never take for granted that every signal you see is being accurately used to show drivers intentions. Many signals are poorly used. Be cautious and wait for a secondary sign that the signal being given is correct. If you are driving safely and anticipating correctly, you will seldom need to use the horn. Only use it if you think other road users haven’t seen you or can’t see you.

    There is not much point sounding the horn in anger at someone who has just pulled out in front of you. It might make you feel better but you could upset the other driver and lead to road rage.
    Look well ahead and if someone looks as though they might be about to pull out without seeing you, use the horn to draw their attention to your presence. It can often be a good idea to acknowledge with a friendly wave when the driver looks at you. The horn can also be useful when your view is restricted, for instance approaching at a narrow bridge.

    Reversing Signal
    When a car is put into reverse gear either one or two white reversing lights are activated at the rear of the car. This can be useful to signal to other road users or pedestrians that you intend to reverse into a parking space or around a corner.

    In next week’s article, we shall be discussing moving off and stopping. For further explanations or clarification on the articles in the Essential Skills of Driving column, consult the author.


    Stephen K. Dieseruvwe
    Director General, Delta State Traffic Management Authority (DESTMA)
    **Driver Trainer and Road Safety Consultant
    **Tel: +2348167814928