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Indiana GOP lawmaker’s bill would repeal law requiring turn signals

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Getting a ticket for not using a turn signal could be a thing of the past if a Republican state lawmaker from Indianapolis has his way.

The legislation could completely eliminate penalties for failing to use turn signals before turning or changing lanes.

Using a turn signal is almost second nature for most drivers; Jamesson Voiles says he learned the hard way. “I got a ticket before for not turning my turn signal on, so that is why.”

Voiles says he was making a right-hand turn at a stoplight, and a cop was right behind him. “It said you could turn right on red, and I did. Well, I got pulled, so that was it.”  

Voiles says the legislation is sending the wrong message to younger drivers. “Because there are a lot of young people growing up watching it is like generation after generation, we have to do better,” Voiles said. 

Voiles may not have been ticketed if the legislation proposed by state Sen. Aaron Freeman passes through the General Assembly, which reconvenes Jan. 11. A lawyer, Freeman previously served on the Indianapolis City-County Council from 2010 to 2016.

According to a draft of Senate Bill 124 on the General Assembly’s website, drivers would not have to use turn signals 200 feet before changing lanes or turning, nor would have to use turn signals 300 feet before changing lanes in a 50-mph zone.

It wasn’t clear Wednesday what change Freeman is after or if the senator is trying to remove any mandatory use of turn signals in Indiana. Freeman on Wednesday night sent I-Team 8 a statement about his proposal, which he says addresses confusion in laws dealing with turn signals. His statement came after the story had already aired on News 8 at 5. Freeman also shared on Wednesday night the ruling from an Indiana Court of Appeals case in which the confusion was highlighted.

Avid bicyclist Monte Oglesby lives downtown and rides his bike almost everywhere. He says a driver not using a turn signal can mean life or death for him.  

“I got bumped by a car a couple weeks ago,” Oglesby said.

The use of turn signals became a viral topic for Indiana State Police a couple years ago when Sgt. John Perrine recorded a tongue-in-cheek public-service announcement.

“What if I told you there is a feature on every car that’s standard that not only will help prevent crashes but will help road rage a little bit? Let me show you. If you look at your steering wheel, to the left side of your steering wheel, there is this stick that comes out. It is pretty incredible. It is called a turn signal,” Perrine said in the video that went viral.

Statements to I-Team 8 after story aired

“Below is some background on the turn signal issue. …

“IC 9-21-8-24 and 9-21-8-25 both address turn signals. IC 9-21-8-24, copied below, already contains a reasonableness standard.

“‘IC 9-21-8-24 Slowing down, turning from a direct course, and changing lanes; performance with reasonable safety; signal

“‘Sec. 24. A person may not:

“‘(1) slow down or stop a vehicle;

“‘(2) turn a vehicle from a direct course upon a highway; or

“‘(3) change from one (1) traffic lane to another;

“‘unless the movement can be made with reasonable safety. Before making a movement described in this section, a person shall give a clearly audible signal by sounding the horn if any pedestrian may be affected by the movement and give an appropriate stop or turn signal in the manner provided in sections 27 through 28 of this chapter if any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.’

“If that language is sufficient, it may be easier to repeal IC 9-21-8-25 which is the statue requiring a specific distance, i.e. 200 feet or 300 feet.  Just dont want to make it more confusing if there are 2 “reasonableness” statutes dealing with turn signals.

“Those were my thoughts going into this.”

Statement from Indiana state Sen. Aaron Freeman, a Republican from Indianapolis, on night of Dec. 29, 2021

“The LSA (Legislative Services Agency) attorney who drafted the bill gave me this summation of what the legislation does:

“”‘The short explanation is that IC 9-21-8-24 is technically the requirement to give a turn signal, while IC 9-21-8-25 is the requirement to give the turn signal a certain number of feet before the turn. So, there is still a requirement to signal in code, it just no longer has an accompanying distance specification.’

“Sen. Freeman described it to me this morning that If you pull out of the lot at the Statehouse on Ohio with your turn signal on the whole time before taking a right turn onto Capital you could still technically get pulled over because it is less than footage than currently specified in code.”

Statement from Charlie Tinkle, press secretary, Senate Majority Communications Office, on morning of Dec. 30, 2021