Use of proper turn signals is not optional

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I preface this column by stating that I am not a mind reader. While intrigued and often amused by the predictions and musings of psychics and seers, I am content to focus on the here and now. I try not to worry about the small stuff. That said, it is the small stuff of driving that once more gains my attention, particularly the use of turning signals.

No one owns the road, albeit there are a few drivers out there who think that they do. These are the ones who do not want anyone to cut in front of them. They refuse to allow others to merge. I can think of numerous instances where I have signalled my intent to change lanes, only to have the vehicle behind increase speed to prevent my move. What thought process is happening here? “Oh look, someone in the lane next to mine is signalling and wants to go ahead of me … guess I’ll speed up.” It’s like some kind of Pavlovian experiment gone wrong. If people signal with ample and timely warning, let them in ahead of you. Signal lights are not suggestions.

On the opposite end of the signalling spectrum we have those drivers who pull up parallel to us and think we can see their signal lights. They give the steely glare that asks ‘why aren’t you letting me in?’ As I said at the outset, I do not work for Jo-Jo’s psychic alliance. If I cannot see your turn signal, don’t assume I can read your mind. If you have to change lanes, indicate your intent in a timely and overt fashion. No one likes the two-second phantom who barely drifts ahead, allows one flash of the light and then slides over.

Worse yet are those who do not signal at all or who leave their signal on for no apparent reason. You are at the intersection and the oncoming car decides at the last second to turn, or a car is coming in the opposite lane and is indicating a turn … do you proceed into the flow of traffic? It’s hard enough for experienced drivers to guess what someone is going to do. To be proactive, one must be able to anticipate the ‘what ifs’ of the road. I can only imagine the frustration new drivers must feel venturing out onto the roads. Pages 75 and 76 of the Basic Licence Driver’s Handbook remind us ‘not to confuse others by signalling too early or too late … and to turn off your turn signal if it does not turn off automatically.” The handbook also tells the signally challenged types out there to “signal in sufficient time to provide a reasonable warning to other drivers of your intentions.”

We can all be reasonable in doing our part to share the road. We must never assume that the other person should know what we are going to do. We must take ultimate responsibility for our own safety and ensure our actions do not put others in harm’s way. So, let’s be less like Jo-Jo and more like Bill Engvall! If I want you to know I am turning … here’s your sign!

Tim Cusack is looking forward to driving a ball with a hybrid club this spring.

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