Sports Law • Risk Management

Sports Safety: Remember to Use Your Turn Signal

Motor vehicle drivers are required by law to communicate with other drivers by using their turn signals before changing lanes or turning. When this law is followed, accidents are prevented. In sport, athletes generally don’t have electronic “turn signals” and so when they make sudden moves whether as a skier, runner, cyclist, swimmer, basketball player, or soccer player, they may plow into another athlete and cause injury.

Certainly, there are sports that require stealth movement in order to gain advantage over an opponent such as in basketball and football. However, when surprise movement is not necessary and when there is an opportunity to avoid injury by communicating planned moves to others, use of verbal or non-verbal signals are helpful. An athlete can use verbal signals by telling the other athlete where she is, by saying, “behind you” or “on your left”. This is often done in cycling, running and skiing. An athlete can also use non-verbal signals by actually using his hands as signals or by maneuvering in a gradual manner so that the other person is not caught off guard. Coaches should instruct beginning athletes and remind experienced athletes to signal their movements so as to avoid injuries. Imagine all of the injuries that could be prevented if athletes remember their “turn signals”.