ABU DHABI // They are the among the most unloved and ignored of all the gadgets in a car – those flashing orange lights that announce one’s intention to turn.
But if more drivers used their indicators accidents could be prevented and lives could be saved, experts said.
While many drivers in the UAE turn without using indicators, others give the wrong signal at the wrong time and in the wrong place.
“They are used primarily to warn other drivers of their intent but many [drivers] are often not disciplined or do not apply the correct use of indicators,” said Dino Kalivas, chairman of the driver education and training committee at the International Road Federation.
Others signalled without any intention of turning or moving, forget to turn them off, signal too early or change their minds.
“Such practices are dangerous and do not give adequate warning and also make it difficult for other drivers to anticipate,” he said.
Misleading signals or none at all can cause confusion, which can affect safety, said Glenn Havinoviski, associate vice president of the US traffic management company Iteris.
“The non-use of indicators is very dangerous, especially at high speeds,” he said. “Noting that racing cars do not have indicators, many aggressive drivers apparently believe indicators are optional or a nuisance.”
Vipin Kumar Kovumal, 29, an office administrator in Abu Dhabi, said he had a near-miss on the Eastern Ring Road seven months ago.
“The driver just swerved in front of me without doing a shoulder check or indicating,” he said. “She was travelling at a very high speed and could have caused a major accident.”
Drivers between 18 and 35 years of age accounted for 63 per cent of all traffic accidents in Abu Dhabi in the first nine months of 2015.
“Many underestimate the importance of using indicators while driving,” said Dr Salaheddine Bendak, an associate professor at the department of industrial engineering at University of Sharjah.
“This should be changed through awareness campaigns and law enforcement.”
Sudden lane changing carries a Dh200 fine and four black points on a licence. Drivers caught not using indicators when changing lanes or turning face a Dh200 fine and three black points.
“I drive every day and I see a lot of people who don’t use indicators, but I’m not aware of anyone being fined for it,” Mr Kovumal said.
Drivers should protect themselves from other road users’ mistakes by using their mirrors and by keeping a safe distance from other vehicles, said Khaled Al Mansoori, the chief executive of Emirates Driving Company.
“Using the correct lane and indicators will protect the drivers from other road users’ mistakes,” he said.
When a driver is faced with a misleading signal, he needs to react to what car does as opposed to what it indicates, Mr Havinoviski said.
“Do not try to compete with or pass a car that is driving at a substantially faster speed than everyone else, regardless of whether he has his turn indicator on or not,” he said.
“It’s better to stay behind such vehicles, especially if it is clear they are aggressive drivers who change lanes often.”