The Unavoidable Turn Signal Traffic Ticket?

Written by Gregory Monte.

This post is a follow-up to yesterday’s discussion of proper use of a turn signal: Now This Would Be a Silly Ticket … 

In that post, I discussed the requirement to use a turn signal even when:

  • In a right (or left) turn only lane
  • At the end of a road which with no choice but to turn right (or left)

But when I took a closer look (using Google Maps) at the intersection which led to Mr. Hydock’s arrest for not signaling (Commonwealth v. HYDOCK, Pa: Superior Court 2020), I found an interesting situation.  Immediately after you make the right turn, there is another side road called Depot Street which can’t be more than 10-15 feet beyond the corner. The pictures which follow should make this very clear:

The approach Industrial Avenue
Closer to the turn on Industrial Avenue
Making the Turn on Industrial Avenue.
Notice Depot Street Slanting to the Right Immediately After the Turn

This presents a legal dilemma, of sorts …

According to the signaling statues in Pennsylvania (Title 75, Section 3334(b)):

“At speeds of less than 35 miles per hour, an appropriate signal of intention to turn right or left shall be given continuously during not less than the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.”

But take a look at those pictures.  There is absolutely no way that an individual turning right on to Industrial Avenue and then right again on to Depot street could possibly comply with the law. This is especially so because Section D of this same statute also requires that a signal be discontinued after the turn:

“Turn signals shall be discontinued immediately after completing the turn or movement from one traffic lane to another traffic lane.”

Now, I very much doubt that a police officer would write you a ticket for something as silly as this, but you never know.  I still remember the time I was stopped at a red light in Jersey City.  There was a car in front of me and a police car stopped on the other side facing us.  It just so happened that an attractive woman was walking down the sidewalk when the light turned green.  Both the guy in front of me and the cop were so busy watching her that neither moved.  I waited probably 5 seconds and then gave a short beep of my horn to get the guy moving. 

Before I knew it the dreaded red and blue lights were behind me.  I stopped and the cop who had been watching the woman approached my window all sorts of pissed off.  He was unprofessional and rude and demanded to know why I was in a hurry.  After a short lecture he warned me that next time I did something like that in his presence, he would give me a ticket.

So I should be thankful, right, because the cop was nice enough to let me go with only a verbal warning?  After all, I had technically broken the “car horn statute” (Unreasonable Use of Your Car Horn?, The “Car Horn” Ticket Revisited).

Maybe, but this just goes to show that if a cop wants to be a dick, he can.  Just as you are only allowed to blow your horn for emergency situations, you are required to signal no less than 100 feet before turning.  If you try to fight this in court, you will more than likely lose.  The best you will get from the judge is a comment something like:

“I understand the de minimus nature of your offense, but I am constrained to decide in favor of the state …”

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