Drivers often don’t think it’s a big deal if they forget, or don’t bother to, hit that turn signal when they’re changing lanes, exiting a highway or turning into a gas station. But that really is a problem, a new study suggests.

Drivers’ failure to use turn signals actually causes about 2 million car accidents every year. According to a study conducted by the Society of Automotive Engineers, drivers fail to turn on their signals while making a turn a whopping 25 percent of the time. When they are changing lanes, they fail to turn them on 48 percent of the time.

Those are sobering statistics, and they raise the question, “why?” If drivers in Tennessee and elsewhere know they should stop for red lights and stop signs and stick to the speed limit, why are they careless when it comes to using turn signals?

That’s difficult to answer, but it may have to do with the fact that police officers don’t often pull people over for failing to use turn signals. They’re much more likely to go after motorists who are speeding.

The president of an engineering company, who authored the report, says the research is, astoundingly, the first of its kind. He refers to the lack of compliance with turn signals an “epidemic,” according to MSNBC.

So, what can be done? Aside from raising awareness, it’s possible that technology could play a vital role. In theory, new vehicles could come equipped with censors that will remind drivers to use their signals if they continually fail to signal. Some say that could be a viable option to help with the problem.

Source: MSNBC, “Turn signal neglect a real danger, study shows,” Paul A. Eisenstein, May 1, 2012