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Bad signals: The behavior linked to 2 million car accidents

Recently, police have been cracking down on dangerous driving behaviors in Florida. From seat belt enforcements to drinking and driving, there is commonly time dedicated to focusing on and punishing these behaviors. It is well known that distracted or drunk driving can cause car accidents, but are police missing something?

According to a recent study by the Society of Automotive Engineers, there is one behavior that may be responsible for 2 million accidents every year, and it has nothing to do with cell phones or alcohol. People are getting into accidents every day because drivers fail to use their turn signal properly.

There is no one reason for why people are not using their signals properly. However, it has reached epidemic proportions. Every day, drivers fail to use their signal a total of 2 billion times. This has led to the 2 million accidents every year, which is over twice the amount of accidents linked to distracted driving behaviors.

The report was the first of its kind to study the habits of using, or not using, the turn signal while driving. The research shows that drivers fail to either use or turn off signals nearly half of the time they are driving. A driver who does not signal a turn puts other drivers in danger because others cannot anticipate a turn or lane change if there is no indicator. Alternatively, forgetting to turn off a turn signal makes other drivers unsure of when, and if, a driver is going to change lanes or turn.

Instead of cracking down on this behavior, though, officials want auto makers to make smarter turn signals. Many say that smarter signals would shut off a signal if it's on for too long or flash a light - similar to a seat belt light - to remind drivers to use their turn signals if they fail to.

What do you think, though? Should police be cracking down on citing people who misuse their signals in the same way they are cracking down on similar negligent behaviors? Or should they leave it up to auto makers to fix the problem?

Source: msnbc.com, "Turn signal neglect a real danger, study shows," Paul A. Eisenstein, May 1, 2012

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