As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Australia’s Best New Car News, Reviews and Buying Advice

Giving An Indication Of Your Intentions

My fellow-blogger Adam has recently written a few posts about in-car information and the battery of gadgets in modern cars to let you know what, when, where, how much, and so forth. Too much in-car information drives me bonkers, too, especially if some of the in-car information is not just being provided by a beeper or a light but by my teenage son sitting in the back seat and telling me how to drive (and he’s not quite old enough for his licence yet).

What I really would like to know and what I would like to see in cars which probably would make our roads a lot safer would be some way of telling me what the car in front of me is about to do. I don’t give a tinker’s cuss about the optimal level of revs to maximise my fuel economy when I’m approaching a busy roundabout or when I’m driving in heavy traffic; I want to know what the contractor in the Ford Transit  in front of me is about to do. If car manufacturers really loved us and gave us what’s good for us rather than (or as well as) the fun things we want, they’d give us more ways to communicate our intentions to our fellow drivers.

indicatorSome of these have already been invented. In fact, they were invented a long time ago. In spite of this, an awful lot of drivers don’t use the darn things or else they use them improperly. Those orange flashing lights on the side of your car are there for a purpose, people! Use them!

The worst misusers of indicators are seen on roundabouts. The rules state that when you approach a roundabout, you signal which way you are going. This means that if you’re turning right, you indicate right, and if you are turning left, you indicate left. If you are going straight through, you don’t indicate when you first enter the roundabout but you do indicate left when you are about to leave the roundabout. You DO NOT indicate left as you come up to the roundabout if you are going straight through, or else all the cars, bikes and pedestrians who ought to give way to you as you go straight through will think you’re turning left and go ahead. I’ve had a number of close calls thanks to people doing this wrong, to the point that I don’t believe that a car indicating left at a roundabout is actually turning left until I actually see the change in direction. Holds up the traffic behind me and has made me late but avoids crashes.


brakelightThe other invention that is out there to tell other drivers what you’re doing is the brake light, which lets the person behind you know that you’re stopping. I guess the horn is another one, as this lets the person in front of you who is ogling the flash Porsche  that just went past that there is a queue behind them and the traffic light has turned green. From time to time, I’ve wanted a few extra lights to let other road-users what I’m doing as follows:

  •  An accelerator light – to let the person who is tailgating with the hope of overtaking me as soon as they get a clear bit of open road that I am speeding up so we don’t end up inadvertently racing.
  •  A Sorry light. Everyone stuffs up from time to time. It would probably help ease road rage if you could flash an apology to someone you have held up, cut off or had a close brush with.
  •  A light to show that you’re going slow because you’re trying to read the road signs because you’re new to this bit of town.


  1. Adam says:

    A very humorous post there Megan! I think we’ve all wanted those extra lights at some time or another, especially the ‘new to this bit of town’ reference!

    April 11th, 2013 at 1:20 pm

  2. Gavin says:

    Love the idea of the sorry light – in the past I’ve held up my hand to say sorry to another driver but it’s been interpreted as an aggressive gesture and got an already angry driver even angrier!

    April 26th, 2013 at 3:09 pm

  3. David says:

    How about a light on the roof which indicates how aggressively the car is being driven? It’s connected to the tacho, and the intuitive gearbox, and brakes, and shines from green to red depending upon how hard the engine, gearbox and brakes are being used. It may need a GPS link to the prevailing speed limit, so that it can also shine red if the car is being driven well under the speed limit. You’ll be warning other drivers to be aware. Highway Patrol may even go a little easier if you’re a few kays over and the light is green: “OK, he/she is going a little bit fast, but isn’t being a pig”. If you’re over the limit, or well under the limit, and the light is red, you’re going to bring yourself too much attention.

    April 26th, 2013 at 4:08 pm

  4. Ramesh says:

    Yes!!! There is a lot of confusion about roundabouts and even more so that the explanation of rules by RTA/NRMA etc does nothing but compound the confusion. You are perfectly correct in saying that left is for left and right is for right and once in roundabout, left only on exiting roundabouts…. how simple is that!! The rules do not materially change even if there is more that one lane entering the roundabout…. only change is choosing the correct lane in advance. This latter about being in the correct lane is no different than when approaching ANY junction…. crossroads, T- junctions, roundabouts etc.
    Giving way is simply a matter of “give way to traffic on the right” and not as some say ” give way to traffic in the roundabout”. This latter invites some road hogs to try to get into the roundabout first!”

    Nice suggestions …. and quite right, will certainly diffuse many road rage ievents.

    April 26th, 2013 at 4:21 pm

  5. Steve says:

    I’ve seen many drivers indicating a right turn on roundabouts when they are actually going straight ahead. My pet hates are drivers that don’t indicate a turn until they are actually turning, and drivers that don’t know the give way rules in car parks.

    April 26th, 2013 at 5:58 pm

  6. Fourbypete says:

    I’ve often asked the dealers when getting my car serviced if this one comes with rocket launchers? They laugh but don’t realize I’m serious. People who drive caravans should not sit in the right lane, It’s illegal to talk with a mobile phone in your hand in a car and It’s really annoying and illegal to cue across the intersection. Rocket launchers would really help. Are you listening car makers?!

    April 26th, 2013 at 11:26 pm

  7. Kerry says:

    The uniform road rule clearly says words to the effect that a vehicle that has not yet entered a roundabout will give way to a vehicle already in the roundabout. It makes no mention of a vehicle on the right. Having said that, many drivers don’t seem to know this and it being better to avoid an accident, even if in the right, I tend to let people on the right go through, especially if they are approaching a two lane roundabout at 90 kph and are clearly going to take a straight line through, crossing from left to right on entering and right to left on departure. Let them go. It is better to avoid an accident, even if you are in the right.

    April 27th, 2013 at 7:34 am

  8. Phil Donoghoe says:

    Roundabouts are not round them ups, Overtaking while traversing a roundabout is extremely dangerous and a sure sign of aggressive driving. This blog started off with a complaint about the lack of information as to driver intentions, what signal should these drivers (above) give to indicate their rude intention.

    April 28th, 2013 at 10:15 am

  9. Len says:

    The rude ones seem to signal with their middle finger extended in an upward motion and I believe this is referred to as ‘The Bird,’ but I know not why. This gesture conveys the message that this particular driver is having a bad day and it is probably best to avoid him or her and not to make eye contact.

    April 29th, 2013 at 10:49 pm

  10. Perry says:

    The rule is give way to people already in the roundabout NOT give way to the right. If you can get onto a roundabout safely even though there is already a car on there you can do it, particularly if the roundabout is a larger one as the give way rule is give way to avoid a collision. Much frustration at roundabouts is caused by people giving way to the right even when the car approaching on the right is 100m away. Admittently if the car is going 90kmh you might give way to it but you are well within your rights to just get onto the roundabout if they are not on it first.

    April 30th, 2013 at 9:32 am