Posted On: Tuesday - July 27th 2021 4:06AM MST
In Topics:   Curmudgeonry  Peak Stupidity Roadshow
A Steve Sailer post a couple of weeks ago, Road Rage Shootings Soar During the Racial Reckoning, brought out lots of back-and-forth comments regarding the use of turn signals. It doesn't take a a complete difference in ideology, Socialism vs. the Free Market, for example, to bring out lots of arguments. Sometimes the small stuff brings out the most vehement or drawn-out discussions as we have lots of our own personal experiences to argue from.
The use of turn signals on the road is one example, and that was the discussion in that thread. There ARE quite a lot of much more important things going on in the world*, I admit, but I'll just complete my opinion here, with one great example that came up a couple of days after that post, coincidentally.
Here's my contention: Turn signals are communication devices. I suppose that's obvious, but then people often don't use them as such, if at all**. I can remember the way many of the written driver's test questions were stated. (It can be difficult to make good multiple choice questions. See Making a fair multiple-choice test.):
23: You should activate your turn signal how far before the intersection at which you wish to make a turn:I swear they had questions like that. The first problem with those answers is that most people couldn't estimate a distance within 50%. (I asked a woman at the Quicky Mart how far back down the road the barbecue place is that I missed. She told me "oh about 10 miles", but it was barely 2!.) They are also not good answers because the slight differences aren't important. It'd have been better to at least have 10 ft, 100 ft, 500 ft, and 1 mile, as the answers.
( ) A. 200 ft.
( ) B. 150 ft.
( ) C. 100 ft.
( ) D. 75 ft.
More pertinent to this post, the following last answer here ought to be on here and set as the correct one in the computer:
( ) E. It depends.Turn signals are a communication device. Mindlessly just turning them on, so one doesn't have to bother thinking about them was suggested by multiple commenters. I've got a problem with that, basically because I think of driving as a skill and a challenge sometimes, not just a mindless effort. Maybe I should be on a Volkswagen commercial ("Drivers wanted"), but VWs are not my style.
( ) F. You don't always need to use it at all.
( ) G. Both E and F are correct.
In that thread in question commenter usNthem wrote ( It's comment #33. Link isn't so great, as tweets keep dicking up the page display):
What I get a kick out of is how reflexively most people USE their turn signals even when it’s obvious where they’re going or when there’s basically no one around. If I’m in a marked left or right turn lane, there’s no need to signal as it’s clear where I’m going. Now if there’s no marked turn lane and there’s someone behind me or coming in the opposite direction where it’ll make sense, I’ll signal my intent. Otherwise I never use them unless necessary.Yes, that's the idea! Mr. Sailer, with plenty good commenters agreeing, wrote back (#39):
Developing habits like “I always turn on my left turn signal when I’m turning left” makes life a lot easier than having to think through the conditions of each left turn to come to a unique decision each time over whether or not to turn on your turn signal.I disagree, as I guess that's the difference between a driver and a robot (no wait, robots may be smarter!) or at least someone who cares about compliance with the law over safety***. I'll get to safety in a bit with one example.
As thought of as a communication device, it becomes natural to use the turn signal when you need to “tell someone something”. (That could be, “Hey, I’m forking off here, so you can go ahead and get on the road” or “The reason I’m on the brakes, you freakin idiot tailgater, is that I’m turning right in 100 ft.” or “I’m turning left, and I’m waiting for you to go straight. If you are also turning left, then if I knew that I’d start my turn, but without your turn signal on, how do I know that, you worthless asshole.” Stuff like that.) That takes thoughtfulness, but also, one must be aware of the surrounding traffic. You should. If you're not, you are not a safe driver and the most exacting driving-school-written-test procedure isn't going to stop you from getting smashed into occasionally.
Long ago one night, I was riding in the front passenger's seat in a taxi with 2 colleagues in the back, and noticed the driver signaling a right turn about 200 yards before a big intersection at which he wanted to turn. There was an entryway from the right out of a shopping center to the big road we were on, about half-way from us to the big intersection. There was a car nosing out at said entryway obviously wanting to get on the road. Traffic was heavy, so that other driver was looking for any small space to allow him to start down the road. I could see what the problem was. That guy swung out onto the road and made our taxi driver hit the brakes hard. It was pretty close.
Of course, the other driver should have looked for more of a deceleration from our car (a type of judgment people are getting worse at, IMO) or even waited until we really started to turn. However, he may not have gotten onto the road then. Oh, yeah, an ensuing wreck would have been that other driver's fault. That's great for one's insurance bill, but it could still have been no fun at all. The thing is, an actual driver on our end wouldn't be in or close to such a wreck, as he would have been thinking, without a whole lot of brain effort "let me wait on the signal, as that guy there will get the wrong idea". Yes, that guy did.
We rode with a taxi driver, but not a real driver. The problem was not that he didn't know the exact distance from an intersection to activate his turn signal off that written test. The problem was that he wanted to drive thoughtlessly. Well, I can't go micromanaging a taxi ride, but I sure enough did see that coming that night.
That taxi ride wasn't the example from a few weeks back, though. I was going to end with that, but I'll put it in a separate small post later.
* Also, the way automation is going, the self-driving cars won't need turn signals, as they'll tell each other which way they're going. Those who actually steer their own cars will be relics driving "legacy vehicles".
** The latter is the situation with many black drivers, from what I've seen. It's not that they are too lazy to flip the lever, but to think about when to use it is either too much for them or too White for them.
*** That's a much bigger issue in bicycle riding. The law should be of almost NO concern for bike riders, as THE LAW is not going to save you from head injury.