Do I Have to Signal to Change Lanes?

It’s a question we all ask ourselves when we get behind the wheel of our vehicle. “Do I have to signal to change lanes?” Depending on which state you live in, the laws on signals for lane changes are different.

Getting behind the wheel is a tremendous responsibility not to be taken lightly. Knowing the rules of the road, wherever you may be, is always a wise idea. So, we sat down and did some research on the rules of the road for all 50 states when it comes to mandatory signaling while in the act of changing lanes on the highway. In some cases, we found stringent laws stating “you must signal” while in other cases, the law stated that “the movement must be done with reasonable safety” saying nothing whatsoever about signal usage.

Do I have to use my signal to change lanes?

Best practices dictate that using your turn signals or “blinkers” is always a great idea. It is good, courteous communication to the drivers around you. By using your signals, it’s your way of letting everyone know what your plan is, where you’re headed and what they can expect so they can react safely and with courtesy to you. In other words, use your signals, it’s the safest way to get from Point A to Point B. Best of all, it helps you avoid the time, trouble and headaches that come with a traffic accident. Nobody wants to be the person on the side of the road everyone is rubbernecking to look at, so please, be kind, be courteous and use your signals.

To help you be prepared when you hit the roadways, we have put together a list that details which states require signals to change lanes on the highway, which ones don’t and states where it is entirely situational as to whether or not a signal is required to change lanes. While we tried our best to be as thorough as possible, don’t just take our word for it. Please make sure to check your specific state and local laws to make sure you are obeying the law and being as safe as possible on the roadways.

do I need to signal to change lanes?

What does it mean “It depends?”

Some states require you to signal some of the time, but not ALL of the time. In those states the law is usually built with the idea that if you’re in traffic, or around other drivers, you must signal; however, if there are no other vehicles nearby, you don’t have to.

States that REQUIRE you to signal before changing lanes:

Alabama
Alaska
Connecticut
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Kentucky
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Nebraska
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Washington
West Virginia
Wyoming

States that DO NOT REQUIRE you to signal before changing lanes:

Colorado
Delaware
Iowa
Kansas
Maine
Maryland
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Pennsylvania
South Dakota
Tennessee
Virginia

States where it is SITUATIONAL if it is mandatory for you to signal before changing lanes:

Arizona
Arkansas
California
Florida
Indiana
Louisiana
Wisconsin

Can police give me a ticket for changing lanes without signaling?

Can they? It depends. Will they? Probably. In some states there have been reports of law enforcement officers ticketing drivers for not using their signals to change lanes, even though the law might say that it is not mandatory. If you feel like you have been ticketed unfairly, contact a Criminal Defense Attorney and they can help you rectify the situation.

Bighorn Staff

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3 Comments

  • Joe Finley says:

    I changed lanes in Walton Georgia without signaling and their were no cars in that lane. Should I have receive a ticket and was it mandator to signal?

  • Thomas McKelvey says:

    Your map and list incorrectly state that you do not have to signal a lane change in Nw York. In New York VTL 1163(a) clearly requires signaling 100 feet prior to a lane change.