Right Hand, Right Turn Signal in House Committee

House Study Bill 210, a bill that allows bicyclists to use the right arm to signal a right turn, will be in front of a Iowa House Transportation Subcommittee on Wednesday.  Iowa’s current law only allows the left arm to be used in signalling all turns. With the introduction of HSB210, Iowans can signal a right turn by extending their right arm.

Most other states have similar laws.  Even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration teaches the right hand right turn signal as the standard.  

The right arm is much more intuitive for bicyclists turning right.  Often the right side of the bicyclist is on the same side that a right turning motorist may see before cutting off a right turning bicyclist.

Opponents point to the braking systems on US bicycles as one reason not to pass the law, however, the Iowa Bicycle Coalition points out the effective braking power of the front brake highlighted by bicycle experts Sheldon Brown and John Forrester.  Other opponents suspect the right arm signal may dilute the left arm signal.  However, since many other states are using the right arm signal and the proliferation of blinkers may have already diluted the left arm signal.

One of the final important reasons to teach the right arm turn signal is children learn the right arm signal easier than the left signal.  Bicyclists can start riding at very young ages and use of proper hand signals could prevent crashes.