Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Cursed turn signals!!!

I have come to the conclusion that I really dislike turn signals. I know, that's not a popular opinion. You are more likely to hear people cussing about those who don't use turn signals. But I have come to really despise the stupid things.

And, here's why.

Sure, it sounds like a good idea: let other drivers know that you intend to turn (or change lanes) before you do it. Of course, unless your move will actually interfere with other drivers in some way, it's pointless, but we'll ignore that for a moment.

The reality of turn signals comes down to this: Some drivers use your warning as a challenge to cut you off before you can do what you signaled your intention to do.

And, in the case of others signaling for your "benefit", in most cases it seems that the signal is ripe for tragic confusion. Here in town I can't trust drivers to turn when they are signaling that they are turning. And I am not talking about people who used their signal when changing lanes and then forgot to turn it off. When I am trying to pull out on the highway and see an apparent opening due to someone signaling, it usually turns out that they are actually turning beyond where I sit. If I trust their signal and pull out I will be hit. If they wait until they are past me to begin signaling so as to not be misleading me, the signal is meaningless. And in that case, according to the "law", they didn't turn on their signal far enough in advance of their turn. So, signal or not, I need to wait until they either turn or pass me before I make a move, just as I would have to do in the absence of turn signals.

And, in response to one person I mentioned this to (after just such an event while they were driving) who couldn't wrap their mind around my point at all, I am not saying hand signals are "better". I think it's usually better- but not always- to forgo the signal completely. If you can signal in a way that has little chance of causing confusion, do it. If not, leave the lever alone!



  1. As much as I try to use signals "correctly", and am pleased when someone sees my signal and opens the gap for me to come in more safely, the fact is that almost always I drive as if I haven't signaled at all. I never expect the other driver to see, or heed, the signal. That may be why I have an excellent driving record.

    My Mom, who taught me to drive, told me "Always drive as if all the other drivers are insane."

    About the only time a signal is actually useful, is when blocking traffic trying to make a turn. Either when slowing to make a right turn, or coming to a stop waiting for an opening to make a left turn, the signals serve the purpose of letting the madman behind you know that he doesn't have to get out and beat the crap out of me, it's someone else's fault I'm in his way. Really.

    But that's about it.

  2. Yep, Bob. That nails the situation pretty well. I always drive as though the other cars are tumbleweeds and not under intelligent control, and it usually serves me well. That's why I don't assume the other driver will stop just because there's a stop sign or a red light (both of which I also think create more danger than they solve).

    If I think the turn signal will actually make the situation clearer, I always use it. Otherwise I forget a lot.

  3. I learned defensive driving when I started 50 years ago. I've had one "accident" - in a sandstorm, and one "ticket," given on a deserted highway for an irrational 55 MPH "speed limit" violation. That's it.

    I always do my best and assume the worst from everyone around me, watching everything carefully at all times. Maybe that's why "situational awareness" came so naturally when I started to carry a gun.

    As for the signal... I always use it but don't expect it to convey anything and never trust what others signal. Seems to have worked.