Can You Be Charged With Failing to Signal a Lane Change?
In Ontario, Failing to Signal Is a Traffic Offence With a Penalty of Two Demerit Points (Five CVOR Points For Truckers) and $110 Total Fine Including Costs and Surcharge. Interestingly, Successful Prosecution Requires Proof That Another Vehicle Was Potentially Affected.
A Helpful Guide to Understanding The Law Regarding Proper Signaling As a Warning For Others Using the Road:
A common frustration for many drivers is the driver that 'forgets' to signal for turns or changes of lanes. In addition to causing frustration, failing to signal also poses a danger to others who may be surprised by an unexpected move. Equally annoying can be the driver that uses a signal; however, the signal is applied only at the last moment in a manner that fails to warn of a forthcoming move and instead becomes simply an indicator of what the driver is actually doing rather than a warning of what the driver is about to do. The law on proper signaling is found within s. 142 of the Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, which states:
The driver or operator of a vehicle upon a highway before turning to the left or right at any intersection or into a private road or driveway or from one lane for traffic to another lane for traffic or to leave the roadway shall first see that the movement can be made in safety, and if the operation of any other vehicle may be affected by the movement shall give a signal plainly visible to the driver or operator of the other vehicle of the intention to make the movement.
Accordingly, the law requires that the signal be used to indicate an intention rather than an action. On another note, where the law states that a signal is required to provide indication of intentions where the intention may affect safe "operation of any other vehicle", a 'failure to signal' charge appears to require proof that another vehicle was present and may be affected; accordingly, where another vehicle must be present and thus if there is no other vehicle, there is no mandate in law to signal. Surprisingly, the mandate to signal intention applies only to, "any other vehicle"; and apparently, without similar mandate to signal intention to pedestrians.
A charge of failing to signal may be successful where it is proven that a driver of an automobile failed to signal a warning of intent to change lanes or intent to make a turn if that failure could affect the operation of any other vehicle. . The qualifying requirement that the failure to signal must affect another vehicle makes 'failing to signal' and interesting charge within the Highway Traffic Act. Notably, the failing to signal charge applies only where another "vehicle" may be affected; and accordingly, failing to signal when a pedestrian may be affected is irrelevant (albeit it is still smart to signal for the benefit of a pedestrian). Also notable is the requirement that, in addition to proving that the charged person failed to signal, for a successful prosecution there must also be proven that another vehicle was in the vicinity in such a way that the operation of that other vehicle was potentially affected.