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.