My question is simple, and pedantic:

An intersection near my house has a marked left turn lane, and a marked straight lane.

Problem is, the main road turns to the right at this roughly "Y" shaped intersection. This means the marked "straight" lane turns a shallow right, and the "left" lane goes straight ahead (when they have the light, of course).

My Question: I don't use my blinker when in the "left turn lane" on the basis that if I'm not turning my wheel then I shouldn't need the blinker. Is this illegal under Ohio state law? This code seems relevant, but I can't make heads or tails of it.

  • This conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Pat W.
    Commented Feb 18, 2021 at 12:23
  • I wonder: is it always legal to indicate?
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 18:31

4 Answers 4


It's legal

The Ohio Court of Appeals has addressed a nearly identical situation in State v. Paseka.

The relevant law is, as you noted in the question, R.C. 4511.39, which states, in relevant part:

No person shall turn a vehicle or trackless trolley or move right or left upon a highway ... without giving an appropriate signal

The facts in this case are directly on point—an intersection where continuing straight puts one on a different road, while the original road requires a turn to stay on it:

Appellant was traveling west on State Route 6. At a certain point, Route 6 veers to the left. As appellant approached that area of State Route 6, he chose to maintain a straight-ahead course which automatically placed him on Wahl Road. He was stopped for failing to activate his turn signal in violation of R.C. 4511.39.

The court ruled that this did not violate the law requiring the use of a turn signal:

It is undisputed that appellant’s straight-ahead entrance onto Wahl Road did not require him to turn his vehicle, nor did it require him to switch into a different lane. As such, we fail to see how appellant violated R.C. 4511.39.

Here's the intersection in question, via Google Maps:

enter image description here

Imagery ©2021 Google, Imagery ©2021 Maxar Technologies, State of Ohio / OSIP, USDA Farm Service Agency, Map data ©2021

  • 2
    That seems like a bad decision. It neglected to consider that it did require a decision as to which fork in the lane to follow. ¶ I know it's not a likely situation in this case, but if I were a pedestrian about to cross where the "Rd" symbol is, I'd certainly not be happy if an approaching car exited without signaling. Similarly, if I were a car on Wahl Rd waiting to turn right onto the main road, I wouldn't appreciate having to wait for the other car when I didn't need to. ¶ It's common courtesy to signal one's intent before doing something other than the most obvious. Commented Feb 17, 2021 at 13:38
  • This decision may not be exactly on point. The court's decision relied on the fact that the defendant didn't have to change lanes. But in the situation described in the OP, with the main fork going to the right rather than the left, one would have to cross the lane of oncoming traffic to continue straight onto the side road. (For the same reason, failing to signal would also be more dangerous in the OP's situation than in the situation you describe here.) Commented Feb 18, 2021 at 14:50
  • Street view of wall rd and hwy 6 (I hope) goo.gl/maps/MtYRSm5XaiYSkPhB6
    – jmoreno
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 13:30
  • 1
    Doesn't this case suggest that you need to signal when following normal curves in the road, even ones without intersections? The defendant in this case did not violate the law because he did not "turn the vehicle" to get onto Wahl road. But someone remaining on Route 6 would have to negotiate the turn, so this seems to imply that people remaining on the main road need to signal their intent to remain on the main road, which seems very strange. Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 19:36
  • @NuclearHoagie: Do any states have standards for signage to unambiguously indicate which path would require use of a turn signal? Often, there will be visible cues to suggest when the primary traffic flow is curving and vehicles which go straight would be branching off, but I haven't noticed any states which have a consistent way of indicating that.
    – supercat
    Commented Apr 17, 2023 at 17:19

In there is no legal requirement per se to use an indicator when turning in the situation described (but here it will be a right, not left, turn).

Rule 179 of the Highway Code states that:

before you turn right you should ... give a right-turn signal

The Wording of the Highway Code states that the use of should makes this an advisory provision, as opposed to other rules that require certain legally required actions must be performed.

Although failure to use an indicator may not in itself be unlawful, it may be of evidential value when investigating offences such as careless or dangerous driving.


I believe in Texas uses a terminology of signal or indication device in a courtroom.

Texas Transportation Code § 545.104

(a) An operator shall use the signal authorized by Section 545.106 to indicate an intention to turn, change lanes, or start from a parked position. (b) An operator intending to turn a vehicle right or left shall signal continuously for not less than the last 100 feet of movement of the vehicle before the turn.

An officer explained it to me, while giving a verbal warning, using an intention device or signal is required to warn other motorists of your intentions. Even though i was in a designated lane to follow an exit. He stated "I'm not saying you didn't use one to get into the right hand exit lane but, it's required use is to warn other motorists A) you're continuing on the exit B) you have NO intention of moving to the left." Whereas, your main route continues to the right and mine to the left.

I-10 & Texas 73 just west of Baytown , TX ;Texas 73 heading to Port Author, TX. Whereas my route was an interstate I'm assuming yours was a secondary or county road. Where I had no issues with oncoming traffic, your signal would; signal your intent to cross oncoming traffic lanes to continue straight.

  • 3
    A police officer often does not know the law as well as s/he thinks s/he does. The laws may also be different, or be interpreted differently, in different states. If such a case were ti go to court, the officer's view would not control. Another answer references an actual reported court case (which is unusual for traffic issues). Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 15:55

That is not legal

Does it look like this (only with traffic lights and not quite so sharp on the right)?

enter image description here

If so, the green car is turning left even if it is physically travelling straight.

  • 5
    Could you back this up with some citation to Ohio law? The plain text of the law does not appear to support this interpretation. Additionally, outside of Ohio, many road markings would label that lane as a straight or right turn lane (this may or may not also be true in Ohio—I haven't spent enough time driving there to know).
    – Ryan M
    Commented Feb 17, 2021 at 3:52
  • @RyanM at the moment the Ohio government website is down
    – Dale M
    Commented Feb 17, 2021 at 4:53
  • This is a roughly accurate portrayal, though the road in my question is 2 lanes each way, with a stoplight, and with the right-hand road at approximately a 45 degree angle.
    – bracec
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 1:23

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