How to force drivers to use their blinkers when turning

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Society
August 8th, 2004 • 10:54 pm

I don’t have to do much driving. I live in the country, and my daily commute is a 10-second walk down the hall to my home office. But the little driving I do is enough to make me ponder whether we are really doing everything we can do to make our roads safer for everyone.

For example, there is little that I find more annoying than drivers who do not put their blinker on before turning. You are driving behind them; they start breaking; you have no idea why they are breaking; maybe they saw something on the road, or they have dropped their cup of coffee or are being attacked by a hornet; after all, when the brake lights come on, there is absolutely no indication of the intensity of the breaking; but then they keep breaking and almost slow down to a crawl (and you’ve been forced to slow down as well), and you still don’t know why; then finally the vehicle takes a turn and, to add insult to injury, the driver puts his blinker on while he’s turning, as if there was still any point in signalling his intention now!

There’s a reason for blinkers. They are designed to let you signal that you intend to take a turn before the fact. This serves a very real purpose: if you know what the driver ahead of you is about to do, you can better adjust your own driving and avoid any risk of being surprised, especially when weather conditions are iffy and roads are made slippery because of the rain or snow. Using your blinkers is not just an issue of civility, but also a safety issue.

So, what could be done to force people to use their blinkers properly? Obviously we will never have enough police officers to enforce the rules. So maybe we could come up with something similar to what is done to try and force people to use their seat belts. Maybe we could get all car manufacturers to install an alarm that sounds every time you take a turn without having put your blinker on. Surely it wouldn’t be much of a technical challenge. (Most cars already know how to turn your blinker off automatically after you’ve taken a turn.) And it would be annoying enough to get most people to use their blinkers, without encroaching on their individual “freedom”.

As I said, it’s not just an issue of civility. It’s a safety issue. And there’s no excuse for not using blinkers.

2 Responses to “How to force drivers to use their blinkers when turning”

  1. Citizen Kane says:

    Well….I am just another guy with an “opinion,” but here it goes.
    As far as I can tell, it is the basic principles of supply and demand and resource allocation. As Hobbes may say, “a war of all against all” is one way to quantify it. We are so damn pig-headed in the United States, that we could not possibly fathom the idea of someone getting to the stop-light BEFORE us…Heaven’s No!!!

    Or, there is the laziness argument. The fat hand of the pig driving the four-ton SUV was to busy sucking down a milkshake and two big-macs to extend the basic courtesy that facilitates the necessary social cooperation that is supposed to be in place to keep us from killing each other with our respective road missles.

    Maybe we need to take a deep breath (all of us) and actually contemplate the idea that it is OK for other people to move freely through traffic. After all, driving really is like the human blood stream. What happens when the “blood” gets backed-up? We have a heart attack. This is precisely what happens when people forget how easy it is to extend basic (by the LAW) courtesy.

    Here is an Idea, leave five-minutes early to work…that way, you don’t have to give yourself a heart attack by feeling like YOU are the center of the Universe and have to get three-feet ahead of every driver on the road!

    By the way, a blinker is a tool for keeping you, and those around you, ALIVE!!!

    P.S. is a “W” 2004 Bumper Sticker a pre-requisite of road discourtesy?

    But no, I’m not BITTER!

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    I don’t know about the situation in the States, but here in Canada the problem with people not using blinkers is definitely not limited to reckless drivers. It’s a problem throughout the driving population, from big fat SUVs driven by people with a donut in one hand and a cell phone in the other hand, to 90-year-old Ford Escort drivers going at an average speed of 35 km/h.

    I think not enough effort is put into driver education in the first place.

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