Dear Car Talk:

In a recent column, a reader asked if he should use turn signals each time he comes to an intersection, even if there are no other cars in the intersection.

In response, you listed four reasons he should use the turn signal every time. While all the reasons you list make sense, I think you missed the most important reason: It’s the law!

So I think your response should have been “yes, you should use your turn signal every time because doing so is the law, and you should always obey the law. And if you’re wondering why there is a law requiring use of turn signals, here are four reasons why that law makes sense ...” And then give your four valid reasons.

Again, the point is that drivers should not be trying to decide on the spot which laws they should or should not follow. They should instead assume that a lot of thought, over long periods of time, by a lot of people, went into how the law was written and why, and that their real-time decision on whether or not to follow them might not consider all those reasons. Thanks for listening to my rant! — Brad

I can’t argue with you, Officer Brad.

Keep in mind that traffic laws vary from state to state. They’re enacted and enforced by each of the states individually, not uniformly by the federal government. After all, you get pulled over by the state police, not the national police, right?

And while I’m fairly certain that “appropriate signaling” is required by statute in every state, it would take me a ton of time to read every state’s traffic laws in order to confirm that. And I have a personal law against spending more than three weeks answering any one question, Brad.

For those interested in the reasons I gave for always using your signal, regardless of surrounding traffic, you can find the original letter on our website at

Or, if you don’t feel like reading all the reasons, just follow the law.


Got a question about cars? Write to Ray in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email by visiting the Car Talk website at

© 2021 by Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman

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