The Carmel City Council voted down a proposed ordinance that would have imposed a $100 fine for not using a turn signal when exiting a roundabout.
City Councilor Ron Carter was the only person on the seven-member council to vote in favor. Councilor Tony Green was absent.
Carter and Mayor Jim Brainard were pushing for the change in city law, emphasizing turn signals are the law throughout Europe where roundabouts are common. Other states have similar laws, but Indiana does not.
There is a state law that requires that motorists to use turn signals 200 feet from approaching an intersection. The law has a $500 fine, and some city officials argued that the statewide law could apply to roundabouts since it only refers to an intersection and not what type. Carter said there would be problems with enforcing the state law when it comes to roundabouts because the 200 feet rule changes the meaning.
Councilor Kevin “Woody” Rider said it would be wrong to enforce a state law differently than Carmel police have done in the past simply because the municipal roundabout ordinance didn’t pass.
Councilor Bruce Kimball suggested removing the $100 fine from the ordinance, but City Attorney Doug Haney said municipal court costs couldn’t be waived, which could be more than $130 for a ticket.
In the end, the council decided against removing the fine and voted on the ordinance as presented.
Carter said he was disappointed that nobody joined him in voting in favor of the ordinance but said e had to vote his conscience and resist political pressure.
“I’ve always believed in voting on what’s in the best interest of the public, not just what the current mood is,” he said. “Especially based on Facebook posting or emails.”
Carter read a statement that said Carmel needed to “be a leader” when it comes to such traffic laws, comparing the ordinance to the city taking the risk of installing the first roundabout. He said he knew it wouldn’t pass but urges the mayor to begin an education campaign to encourage people to use turn signals in roundabouts. He said the cost of putting signs at city roundabouts would be less than $2,000.
Councilor Jeff Worrell said he does support revisiting the idea in the future, but only after a successful education campaign is complete.
“I’ve talked to too many people that don’t intuitively get it, and we haven’t done any education so far,” he said.
Council President Sue Finkam said confusion exists about how and when to use turn signals in roundabouts, and therefore she wouldn’t support a fine at this time.
“I am philosophically in support of using turn signals in roundabouts, but we can do better in rolling this out,” she said.