Stop & Go

How has it come to pass that drivers in California stop first before turning on their directionals? Hazards, blinkers, flashers, turn signals. Everyone has a favorite name for this standard piece of automobile equipment. Rather low tech in this world of heated side mirrors and trunk cd players, or the heating systems built into seats that have options on them like Barcaloungers. What’s with televisions and dvd players inside cars? Is it impossible for passengers to be entertained by watching the world go by on the other side of the glass? Or talking to each other? Socializing is an important lesson for kids to learn, and they seem to be the target audience for all the video in the cars. Some of them even listen in headphones to the dvd players as the car moves, now there is some technology at work! Hook’em young will never go out of style.

Signalling which direction you plan to go seems like a pretty simple common courtesy. Nobody wants their car to be plowed into from behind, so why not let them know where you are going? Have some unresolved grudge against them? Trying to contribute just a little to someone’s future road rage episode? It is also common to hear the word “hate” used by complaining drivers. Hate is a strong word, maybe driving is inherently negative to the human spirit. How often does anyone feel love for their fellow drivers?

Included in the driver’s education booklet when I first learned to drive was a question on what distance before a turn the signal should be activated. The correct answer was 200 feet. The answer “Stop first, then signal” was not correct. I would like to point out this doesn’t apply to confused tourists or anyone unfamiliar with driving in Northern California. Everyday drivers in the Bay Area employ the technique, and sometimes a slight variation when no stop is involved, which is to turn the signal on with the same motion of the hands while beginning to negotiate the turn. If the vehicle is actively turning, the signal is unnecessary.

Driving styles develop differently in different regions and this particular blinker usage is interesting. How did it become generally accepted practice?

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Published in: on June 15, 2007 at 11:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

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