Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Without a Signal

Mike is an angry driver. When riding with him, I alternate between trying to defuse his road rage and ignoring his rants. I am also frequently annoyed by other drivers, but I try to create excuses for their bad driving. Maybe they’re lost. Maybe (like in that country song), they’re old and alone and scared to drive, but have no other way to get around. Maybe their kids are waging war in the backseat. I find that my imagination can usually excuse the slow drivers, the brake-happy drivers, the wandering drivers. What I cannot excuse, or forgive, is the omnipresent non-use of the turn signal.

I try to drive defensively and anticipate what the cars around me will do. This becomes a pointless exercise when other drivers change lanes or turn WITHOUT SIGNALING. Instead of engaging in a logical movement pattern, I am attempting to navigate my way through chaotic, random entities. As you can guess, this elevates my irritation level and makes it hard for me to be understanding with the slow drivers, the brake-happy drivers, and the wandering drivers.

I am absolutely unable to empathize with someone who does not use their turn signal. True, the signal light may be out (this has happened to me), but that excuse is wearing too thin for me to continue to believe. Using the turn signal should be rote. It should be as automatic as the head check when changing lanes. Not to toot my own auto horn, but I’ve even been known to use the turn signal when trying to evade another driver (my dad – I wasn’t supposed to be out driving). The turn signal should be a reflex. If it was meant to be optional, the control wouldn’t be on the steering column. It would be somewhere on the center console.

So, why do I see so many cars change course without signaling? Perhaps using the turn signal isn’t “cool.” (So many lame things are considered “cool” nowadays, (visible underwear, anyone?) that I honestly think this may be a possibility.) Maybe the driver’s right hand is occupied with a cell phone or Big Mac. (The signal bar is usually on the right side of the steering column.) That’s all my imagination can come up with; I’m out of possible scenarios. If you don’t use your signal, tell me why.

What I’d like even more than an explanation though, is for people to just use their signals. Every signalless move contributes to my building road rage. Soon, I’ll be imitating Mike: cursing at people on their cell phones, pretending to chase down jaywalking pedestrians, and swerving at anyone who looks as if they might cut me off. Even I have my tolerance limits.


At 2:22 AM, Blogger OldRoses said...

Gee, I though it was only here in NJ that turn signals were optional! I never realized that it was a nationwide craze.

At 10:41 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

Great blog entry!! I use the turn signal 90% of the time. The other 10% is when no car is close by so I don't need to use it. But if I am on a busy road, of course I will use it! And it also irritates me when people don't use it.

The thing that irritates me the most on the road... God, my blood is boiling just thinking about it... TWO slow cars driving RIGHT next to each other, making all of us in the back ready to explode!!! I just wanna yell so badly, "Go into the right lane you idiot!!!"... If only they would look in their rear-view mirror, they would see that we are all frustrated because the two snails are side-by-side. I think it's just so inconsiderate, especially when they are driving exactly on the speed limit and the rest of us are going wayyy slower than we'd normally go because of them! Grrr...

I tend not to look at drivers that irritate me, I like to avoid eye contact on the road lol, so I'll usually mumble to myself if necessary or try to listen to music to calm myself down or stop thinking about how slowly some people drive! lol.. Don't worry, I'm not a reckless driver! :D

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Garden Obsession said...

Cops don't even use turn signals in Houston (but will still ticket YOU $120 for not using yours). Red lights are even optional for most people. I am quite the hayseed apparently for still waving at people who let me in, using my turn signal, and stopping at stop lights even if there are no other cars around.

At 8:44 AM, Blogger Jenn said...

I am SO with you on the turn signal.

I've been known to habitually use the turn signal when the road has a 90% curve, because I am turning! Yeah, that's silly, but it's habit.

I can't stand drivers who don't use them.


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