When to Signal Whilst Driving

In today’s post, we’re going to be taking a look at how you can signal better when driving. There’s so much to pick up when you’re learning to drive that it can seem like a minefield at times. When is the best time to indicate without causing confusion to other drivers? When should you signal and when should you not?

When drivers are unsure whether to signal, it can cause an accident, and although it may seem like such a small thing to consider, it has the potential to be lethal. Hesitation can be the difference between driving safely or causing an accident that could lead to injury or death. Therefore, it’s important to know when you should signal and when you should not.

We’re going to go through some scenarios when it’s appropriate for you to signal. Not only will it help when sitting your test, it will also prove useful for all your driving life, helping you to become a more competent driver.

Pulling Off

Always remember that when you’re pulling off you should signal, unless there’s a driver behind you and you’re waiting for him to pass, in this case not signalling could cause confusion to the drive behind you because he’ll slow down or stop behind you.

If you’re parking up, then the rules for this should be the same as they are for moving off. Signal what your intentions are before you park up. If there’s no one around, then there is a need to signal.


When overtaking a cyclist on a road wide enough for you to overtake, then signal so other drivers know what you’re doing. If the road isn’t wide enough to overtake you’ll need to slow down behind the cyclist, sometimes a signal on your right side will allow other drivers behind you to realise there’s a cyclist in front. Assess each situation before you signal for overtaking a cyclist, it won’t be necessary to do this each time as it could cause confusion, with drivers thinking you’re turning down a road.

Signalling Around Parked Cars

If you’re near parked cars you may be wondering whether it’s best to indicate. There is no need to do this normally, however, there may be the odd occasion when you should. One such situation would be when you’re driving along a narrow road with a car behind you but there are parked cars ahead. You may need to wait behind them before moving on, signalling drivers behind you lets them know what’s going on. Indicating around parked cars will always require assessment of each situation to decide whether or not you should.


When overtaking a roundabout, you must indicate which direction you’re going in, whether it’s to turn left or right. If you’re following the road straight at a roundabout you don’t need to indicate, but if you’re going right you’ll need to apply the left signal just after the exit you pass before the one you’ll be taking. When you’re leaving a roundabout, you’ll need to make sure you’ve switched off all your signals. You will have to indicate at mini roundabouts in the same way as you would with a normal sized roundabout, but you won’t have to provide a second exit signal. You won’t have to signal when you’re turning in the road (3-point turn) unless there’s a cyclist or another vehicle which might be affected. When reversing round a corner, it may be a good idea to signal to other drivers depending on the situation, otherwise there’s isn’t any need to do this. If you’re parallel parking, then signal left (as you’ll be parking on the left), but otherwise there’s no need to signal.

Merging With Other Traffic

Always indicate right when you’re building up speed to join a dual carriage way or motorway slip road. You should do this around halfway down the slip road and once you’ve merged successfully, cancel your signal.

Changing Lanes

If you’re leaving a motorway or a dual carriageway, then you should always indicate at the 300-yard marker.

A Turn in the Road

If you’re about to turn in the road, then you should signal around 100 feet in advance of turning right or left. But if there are other turns off the one you’ve just taken you may need to signal again. If you have high speed roads, then the distance increases to around 900 feet from your exit, if you’re on a 70mph on dual carriageways.

It’s Important to Know When to Signal

As you can imagine, it’s very important you realise when to signal and when not. A lot of this will be learnt on your driving lessons, and you’ll gain in experience once you’ve passed your test. Once you’ve got over the hesitancy of being a first-time driver after your test, you’ll get better the more you drive and be able to make sensible judgements on when to signal based on what you’ve learnt with your driving instructor and what you’ve learnt on the road. When you’re on the road learning to drive, you’ll learn a lot about other times when you should signal, such as at junctions. Knowing when and the appropriate timings to do so is something you’ll learn easily and quickly with your teacher.

Get in Touch With Questions For Our Driving Instructors Edinburgh

We hope this post has been of use to you, if you’d like to ask us anything about this or any other topic, then please get in touch with us here at Compass Prodrive, and speak to our premier driving instructors Edinburgh.