While driving in Pennsylvania, specifically in Schenley Park in Pittsburgh, I was merging from a side-street to a main road, as seen in the picture below. I had stopped at the stop-sign, checked for traffic, then proceeded on, whereupon a police officer started flashing his lights at me. He asked where I was coming from, and whether I'd had my turn signal on, stating that he hadn't seen one. I answered him honestly that I was coming from karaoke in Oakland, and that I had had it on, the left turn signal specifically. He did some checks on his laptop and then sent me on my way. In retrospect, since it was a little after 2 AM, he was probably randomly pulling people over, knowing that the odds were that he could find someone who was driving inebriated after leaving the closing bar, the turn signal being a flimsy excuse for probable cause. That said, it made me wonder, which turn signal should be on in this sort of situation?

Merging onto Panther Hollow Rd

One option is to have the left turn signal on, since you are merging left into traffic. On the other hand, I'd come to a complete stop, and a left turn signal might confuse people into thinking that I planned on a left turn (not feasible here, but possible in some other merging situations) and one does sort of have to turn right from the side street to get onto the main street. Reading through the PA traffic manual didn't help. Poking through the Kentucky and Ohio ones (they were convenient) didn't bring up any helpful laws for how to properly signal a merge. Is there a standard rule in Pittsburgh, in Allegheny County, in Pennsylvania, or in the United States in general, that I can rely on?

  • 4
    The answers below seem fine, but there are exceptions. In Boston, for example, you either use both signals or none. And certainly no brake lights, there, when merging onto a highway or especially a rotary: Just floor it.
    – davidbak
    Jun 6 '16 at 20:39
  • 2
    I would say: If there is a stop-sign, you are "turning", not "merging" - the latter would require two parallel lanes become one (as others already stated). Hence I'd use my right turn signal.
    – Gerhard
    Jun 6 '16 at 21:51
  • 1
    @200_success: Er... that says when turn signals need to be used, but not which one. Jun 7 '16 at 1:59
  • 3
    The real correct answer is: "Using a turn signal is giving information to the enemy and should never be done." - Source I grew up in The 'Burgh. Jun 7 '16 at 15:01
  • 2
    I accept that it is a requirement, but do not understand why "signaling your intent" is required when there is no possible alternative. Especially in this case where there is no acceleration lane and the access road is nearly parallel.to the road one is "merging" onto.
    – Michael J.
    Jun 7 '16 at 15:59

There is a stop sign at this intersection.
enter image description here

Your right hand signal would be appropriate while stopped at the sign, to signal your intent to cars behind you. As soon as you've decided to proceed, you should switch to left signal to indicate your intention to oncoming traffic in the lane you're merging to.

  • 8
    Mind you, the question headline says "when merging in to a lane". At the crossing shown, you're not merging in to a lane. It's simply a right-hand-turn at a stop sign. So, yes, when "merging in to a lane" you signal left (or whichever way you are merging). The situation shown is not "merging in to a lane".
    – Fattie
    Jun 7 '16 at 15:04
  • 4
    Question -- what's the point of a right-turn signal here? What else could be your intent than turning right?
    – user541686
    Jun 7 '16 at 18:34
  • 4
    @Mehrdad: The way I usually look at it is that your signal may be of use to others. There may be pedestrians on the grassy areas next to the road who might not know that you can't turn left so they would be signaling to them as well. In this situation it is probably not really needed but in many situations it may be less obvious that there is only one option. And a rule of always indicate is better than a more subjective rule of "indicate unless its obvious".
    – Chris
    Jun 8 '16 at 8:44
  • 2
    Since there is apparently no choice at that intersection (there appears to be a barrier restricting a left turn), it seems that no turn signal is needed (except due to probable legal requirement). You're simply traveling in the required direction. There should be no confusion possible for those behind you nor on the main road. To me, a turn signal implies that something unexpected will be done, something different from traveling as required by the lane. Jun 8 '16 at 9:19
  • 1
    @Mehrdad: Not sure about legally required (certainly not in the US). I am not sure that failure to indicate is illegal in the UK. I suspect that if you were going to be prosecuted for that it would be under "dangerous driving" and would probably need to be in conjunction with something else (ie failing to indicate and thus causing an accident or near accident). I am not a lawyer though and my previous comment is just from experience of being a driver and also a pedestrian wondering what cars are actually doing.
    – Chris
    Jun 8 '16 at 10:00

Based on Florida Drivers License Handbook

Signal your intent to merge onto the expressway

enter image description here

In this case, you'd switch between signals when merging -

enter image description here

So right signal when exiting until the stop sign, then left signal while merging.

Pennsylvania DOT agrees, but without pictures -

enter image description here

  • 2
    This is the right answer. People driving onto the highway need to be aware that you're merging. Flashing one's right turn signal might be technically correct, but the people driving on the road won't see it.
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 6 '16 at 18:04
  • 2
    I agree. Using your left turn signal is the clearest indicator to the people you're merging into that you're coming. By the time you get to the gore point, you're already facing the direction of traffic and the action you're performing is a merge into the lane to your left, not a turn to your right. Jun 6 '16 at 18:24
  • 4
    Is this a highway on ramp, though? It looks too perpendicular for me to be comfortable merging there. I would likely stop and look left, since there isn't an acceleration lane. Jun 6 '16 at 18:32
  • 5
    nah, there's no "acceleration lane" here. it's nothing more than a stop sign where you're stopped and turning right on to a road.
    – Fattie
    Jun 7 '16 at 13:40
  • 5
    This isn't an acceleration lane, nor is this a highway, so the quoted passages are not relevant to the situation at hand.
    – Joe
    Jun 7 '16 at 14:16

This is the oakland zoo, just go. He was fishing for a DUI nothing more. You would use your right turn signal at the stop sign. Even though it's your only option. If there were an actual merge lane you would use your left signal to indicate a right lane to left lane merge, but there isn't. I was born and raised here in the Steelcity and work in Oakland.

  • right, it couldn't be simpler. stop sign - turning right.
    – Fattie
    Jun 7 '16 at 13:44
  • Heh... the FL diagram says "don't enter here" in the top half, yet the broken while line implies you can do otherwise.
    – Andy
    Jan 6 '17 at 2:42
  • ^_^ It's not the Oakland Zoo, but rather Schenley Park, but it is nice to get input from a native. Sep 20 '18 at 16:48

In this particular case you should be using the RIGHT TURN Signal

You use the left turn signal only in the case where you merge or change from an acceleration lane such as the situation here: enter image description here

In your particular case you where actually making a shallow right turn.

There are no actual rules printed as far as I can remember but you can check the driver's manual from various states it may be there.

  • 2
    This is really closer to a merge without the benefit of a merging lane than a right turn. Nobody behind you will have any illusion about where you are going (you can't go straight or turn left), and nobody already on Panther Hollow Rd will see your right turn signal anyway.
    – chepner
    Jun 6 '16 at 18:31
  • Hence my puzzlement about the Police involvement. Though I can guess that he thought the drive wanted to turn into against the traffic.
    – Karlson
    Jun 6 '16 at 18:32
  • 2
    @Karlson the probable cause excuse seems most likely to me.
    – phoog
    Jun 6 '16 at 18:34
  • 1
    @chepner: the only-in-PA twist is that you're actually already on Panther Hollow Rd - all those gymnastics are so you can stay on Panther Hollow going east, instead of Boulevard of the Allies going west. (And if you want to continue going south-ish, you have to find the minuscule gap in the concrete barrier so you can merge right onto Overlook Dr. In fact, if the car in front of me at the stop sign were signaling right, I'd assume they had wanted to get on Overlook, missed the gap, and were now thoroughly confuzzled.)
    – Martha
    Jun 6 '16 at 23:36
  • 1
    just TBC Karlson's excellent large diagram shows what is NOT the case in this question.
    – Fattie
    Jun 7 '16 at 13:44

The answer is simple you use your turn signals to indicate to other drivers what your intentions are. You were correct to indicate left as your vehicle must turn slightly/merge to enter the main road from the access road on the right hand side of road.

As a fellow Pittsburgher driving the very same roads I use my left signal at this entrance onto the Boulevard.

  • 4
    As someone who is in Pittsburgh frequently but thinks that no one there can drive correctly, your answer confirms my belief. Jun 7 '16 at 20:14
  • "The answer is simple" which is why there are multiple conflicting answers! In this case, it's not completely clear how to signal one's intentions; hence the question.
    – user35890
    Jun 8 '16 at 6:42
  • 1
    As someone who has driven in Boston for 30 yrs, I can confirm that this is the legally and socially correct answer, even if rarely done. Signalling a right turn will only serve to confuse all other drivers. Jun 8 '16 at 12:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.