Hey, Driver Behind Me, Guess When I’m Planning to Turn!

Sadly, and dangerously, it seems there are too many times any more when vehicle drivers, particularly those in cars, execute a turn or change lanes, without bothering to alert those driving behind them, by simply using the turn-signal, which, by the way, is the very reason it’s there, and not just to counter-balance the windshield-wiper activator on the other side of the steering column!

The turn-signal isn’t some kind of a brand-new, out of the blue, gizmo, that’s under-used by drivers today due to lack of awareness or confusion.  No, that important device was in varying stages of development quite early in the 1900’s. Once known as “blinkers,” it was back in1939 when Buick first made the turn-signal, as we now know it, a standard feature on all of its vehicles.  Then, in the early 1960’s, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was created, turn-signals became required on all vehicles in America.  So now, some 60-years after required installation and expected use, the turn-signal still isn’t used 100% of the time, as it should be, when a driver, with time and location known only to him or her, is planning to make an upcoming turn.

Surveys have indicated a few of the reasons why some motorists, regrettably, too often, fail to use this nifty, simple safety device.  Forty-two percent of respondents said they didn’t have time to signal. It’s not in the trunk, it’s right there within very easy reach, so that’s a weak excuse, at best.  Then, another 23% of drivers surveyed indicated that, when turning, they were simply “too lazy” to go through the laborious task of activating their turn signal.  While 11% said that using the turn-signal “was not important.”  Not important for preventing accident and injury!  Beginning to think that the last two groups of respondents, for safety’s sake, should perhaps be denied a license to drive!

Almost half of drivers responding to another survey noted that they did not use their turn-signal at all when changing lanes!  And the most common excuse in that latter survey was that they “simply forgot.” Given the privilege of licensed motor vehicle use, rather than “simply forgetting’ one’s full range of responsibilities behind the wheel, concentrating on the continual accident potential while driving would be a darn good idea for all drivers, all of the time!

Back many years in time, prior to the attachment of this simple turn-signal device to the steering column, seniors out there can remember the actual effort involved when you were preparing for a turn, or perhaps it was for your dad, as you observed from the back seat. First you had to wind (hand crank!) the driver’s side window down. Then the driver would stick his or her left arm out of that open window, pointed straight out for a left turn, or with a ninety-degree, arm bent at the elbow signal, for a right-hand turn. This all called for continued concentration on the remaining time and space, before a known turn was coming up, with no likelihood or allowance for simply ‘forgetting’ to make that open window, left-arm signal. It was a firmly understood rule-of-the-road, well-known, expected, and practiced, by all alert and responsible drivers, despite the definite effort, whenever a turn was coming up.

Going forward, for those having trouble remembering to signal a turn, made so much easier today, it would be a really good idea, to turn off the radio and/or pause the conversations and remember instead, that turning your vehicle left or right is not just all about you. It definitely impacts those behind you, and perhaps folks driving in a lane near you.  That all-important, simple to use, easy to reach, little turn-signal device, when properly and timely activated to indicate your turn intention, can prevent accidents and injury, which for failure to use, would most likely make you responsible.  No excuses.  Use your turn-signal for every turn, every time.

Oh, and then a topic for discussion perhaps some other time, there’s that other seemingly-increasing issue on the roads, when someone behind you makes it abundantly clear, by seeming to be rear bumper close, that they apparently need to get somewhere a whole lot quicker than you, and you alone are preventing their goal!  Yep, this thing called “tail-gaiting,” isn’t limited to just pre-game football festivities anymore!