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"That Guy Didn't Even Signal!" (Actually, He Didn't Have To)

It's the classic righteous motorist's cry of frustration when some jerk cuts you off on the highway. "That maniac didn't even signal!"

Don't tell anyone, but in Maryland, that maniac actually didn't have to signal before changing lanes. Maryland law does require drivers to signal their intent to turn at an intersection or from a shoulder. But there's nothing in current law that speaks specifically to signaling when changing lanes.

Two Montgomery County delegates in Annapolis now want to fill that gap in the law, and their House Bill 67 is floating around, awaiting action that may never come. The Maryland legislature is notoriously unfriendly to efforts to tighten the rules of the road, and so far in this session, there's no sign of movement on the lane-changing bill.



The bill, by Delegates Bill Bronrott and Brian Feldman, would set a fine of up to $500 for motorists who fail to use their turn signals to indicate their intention for at least 100 feet before switching lanes.

"We have heard from various Montgomery County residents who have voiced frustration with the lack of signal use on our roadways," Bronrott says. "Our bill would make it clear that a motorist would have to use the signal when turning and when changing lanes. No clue why the gap exists. I am hopeful that closing the gap will help promote safety and civility on our roadways."

(Friday 5 PM UPDATE: The House Environmental Matters Committee approved the turn signal bill Thursday afternoon. The bill goes to the House floor next week.)

Interestingly, the bill has won support from groups that aren't always on the same side on transportation issues--for example, the AAA and ABATE, the motorcyclists' lobby, which is best known in most state legislatures for its battles against new safety restrictions.

An analysis of the bill by legislative staff concludes that implementing the new requirement wouldn't cost the state anything and might even bump up revenues a bit as police enforced the new rule.

In the meantime, however, most folks probably still think you are already required to signal a lane change. Don't disabuse them of their belief.

By Marc Fisher |  February 13, 2009; 8:19 AM ET
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Comments

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While they are at it, they should pass a law prohibiting riding in the left lane when they are moving slower than the rest of the traffic. People are notorious for this on stretches of I-270 and I-70. Please, the left lane should be a passing lane only.

Posted by: MKelly1624 | February 13, 2009 9:33 AM

It's a good thing, because if you signal to change lanes in Maryland, the cars speed up to close the gap so that you can't get in. The only way to change lanes in Maryland is to NOT signal. You have to steal it, not ask for it.

Posted by: rb-freedom-for-all | February 13, 2009 1:24 PM

Don't like the new-old logo on the top of the page.

Posted by: greentunes | February 14, 2009 8:56 PM

Signal for 100 ft...doesn't it make more sense to signal for a length of time? At 65 mph, 100 ft is covered in 1 second (maybe 1 blink of the light). Stuck in traffic during rush hour, moving 5 mph? You'll have to wait 13 seconds before moving over (well, you might have to do that, anyway).

2 seconds seems about right to me.

Posted by: tomsing | February 17, 2009 10:48 AM

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