The City of Carmel is prepared to give drivers tickets for not using their turn signals when exiting a roundabout.
Even though the Carmel City Council voted down a proposal to institute a fine of up to $100 for not using a turn signal in a roundabout, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said the Carmel Police Dept. will proceed with tickets anyway.
Brainard said Carmel will write tickets under a state law that requires motorists to use turn signals within 200 feet of an intersection. The law carries a $500 fine, and while some city councilors don’t believe this law was written with roundabouts in mind, Brainard said it still applies.
“The roundabout is no different than any other turn,” he said. “You are required to use a turn signal when you turn.”
Brainard said CPD already enforces this state law and will continue to do so. He said he’s not telling the police what to do, but said if a traffic accident occurs because someone failed to use a turn signal when exiting the police would have the option to issue a ticket using this state statute.
“This would be their only tool since we didn’t pass the other ordinance,” he said.
Some city councilors told Current that this represents a change in policy and that CPD has not had a history of enforcing this law with regard to roundabouts.
City Councilor Kevin “Woody” Rider said the state law doesn’t apply to roundabouts, so it could be challenged in court and be difficult to enforce.
“I think it’s absolutely unenforceable,” he said. “Where does the 200 feet start? If the mayor wants to put us in the position of unenforceable, I’m not going to back it. I’m not happy about it.”
City Councilor Jeff Worrell, who voted against the turn signal ordinance, said he believes a successful awareness campaign needs to be done before ticketing begins. Worrell said he spoke to the mayor, and he’s not concerned about tickets and believes CPD will continue to act as they always have.
City Council President Sue Finkam said she would be concerned if the police do enforce the state law in this way.
“An individual cannot comply with current state law of using turn signal 200 feet in advance of an intersection without creating a great deal of confusion and near misses, as one might have to pass a couple roundabout exits before getting to the desired exit, all the while signaling and confusing other drivers,” she said. “I do not support this. We can use our CPD human capital much more effectively, like speed enforcement and neighborhood patrols.”
Brainard said the media attention from the introduction of the ordinance was helpful in educating people about the need for using a turn signal when exiting a roundabout, but more education will be done.
“This was the first step in awareness,” he said. “There will be a public awareness campaign.”
Worrell said the problem is that most people are confused about when to use the turn signal. It’s not intuitive for some, he said.
If the City of Carmel tickets under the state statute, Carmel doesn’t get as much revenue from the tickets, but Brainard said that’s not a concern. Revenue from these tickets cannot be used for public improvement projects such as building roundabouts, he said.
“We get a very tiny amount of it under state law,” he said. “This was never about revenue, and it’s meant to make the city safer. I even suggested a $10 fine in order to promote awareness.”
Several city councilors said during the April 17 council meeting that they were opposed to the city issuing tickets under the state statute.
“It’s not their decision,” Brainard said.
After receiving some pushback from the City Council and Carmel residents on social media, Brainard said that none of this is meant in any “dictatorial” way and that he believes the council and the Mayor’s Office are partners. He said he doesn’t like to micromanage the police department.
Some residents expressed confusion about using a turn signal when exiting a roundabout, especially when going straight. Brainard said that’s still considered a turn.
“You turned out of a roundabout,” he said. “You were in a circle and you turned. I can imagine someone saying that, but it’ll be up the judge.”
Ron Carter, the only member of the council to vote April 17 in favor of requiring turn signals in a roundabout, said he supports Brainard and that the council doesn’t have any recourse for stopping the mayor from implementing the plan.
How to signal in a roundabout
When entering a multi-lane roundabout, drivers must yield to both lanes of traffic.
Once a gap in traffic appears, merge into the roundabout and proceed to your exit. It is not advised to change lanes while driving in a roundabout.
Immediately after passing the roundabout exit before the one you intend to take, use the right turn signal to alert others waiting to enter the roundabout that you will be exiting. Do not leave your turn signal on the entire time you travel through the roundabout and don’t use your left turn signal.