The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 19, 2015: Driving Me Crazy – This Isn’t Any Signal

“This isn’t any signal. It’s a direct statement. If it’s a signal, fine.” – George H. W. Bush, as reported in New York Times, Mar 10, 1980, p B10

By a funny coincidence, we’ll be talking about the exact same thing.

On every car that I have been in, there is a stick coming out of the left-hand side of the car’s steering column which I’m certain is gathering dust in some people’s cars. It’s the lever that operates the turn signals, otherwise more cleverly – and properly – known as “directional indicators”, on account of they’re for indicating which direction you intend to take your car next. And that’s the whole key right there. Until you use your turn signals (I’ll use “turn signals” if it makes everyone happier, until I have a point to make), people are going to expect that you’re going to continue doing what you’re doing, especially if what you’re doing is just driving along at a steady speed in the lane in which you’re currently traveling. [And unless otherwise indicated, and as will be the usual standard for this series of posts, it is assumed that the roads are clear and dry and the weather conditions are favorable for driving. So none of these, “What if it’s raining?” retorts. We’ll cover that another time.]

And that brings us to a good tip about using turn signals. There’s a right way to indicate to the driver behind you (let’s call him “Me”) that you’re about to do something other than what you’ve been doing the past several miles, and there’s the way too many of you who live near me have been doing it to the driver behind you (“Me”). The trick is to remember what the purpose of the turn signal is. (I’ll give you hint: It has to do with “indicating” a “direction”.) As most of you are aware, humans are not normally able to read other people’s minds. So if you decide that you want to change lanes, or take the exit off the highway, or turn into a parking lot or driveway, the odds are good that you will be slowing down or speeding up, and that being the case, it’s certain that the people around you (“Me”) have no clue what you’re about to do. So we ought to have some indication that things are about to change. Don’t you think? I mean, who really likes it when the guy just ahead and to your right decides he wants to slide into your lane right in front of you without telling you ahead of time he was going to do that? I know I don’t, which is why I don’t do it to others. (It’s am important rule that people with my religious beliefs try to employ. You might say it’s Golden to us. Except we don’t expect a reward after we’re dead for following it.) That leads us to the next driving rule:

Wayne’s Driving Rule #2
The correct sequence for making a lane change or a turn off onto an exit or into a driving way or parking lot is:
1. Turn on signal (the correct one)
2. Appropriately apply brakes or speed up
3. Change lanes or make turn

1-2-3. Not 2-1-3. Not 2-3-1. And certainly not 3-2-1. It’s 1-2-3. Now, you may ask, “How much time should I allow between Steps 1 and 2?” In fact you should ask it. Go ahead. Ask it. I’ll wait.

I’m glad you asked. Experts disagree. New York State law requires you to have your signal on for at least the last one hundred feet before making the actual maneuver, but I say that’s too short a time. At 60 MPH, you are traveling 88 feet every second. (You are also driving too slowly and could cause traffic to come to a stop behind you on the highway, but we’re going to cover that next week.) So it only takes you about 1.136 seconds to travel 100 feet. And if the driver behind you (“Me”) was to be driving at a hypothetical speed of 80 MPH, he would travel 100 feet in a little over 0.85 seconds. I have quick reflexes, but that that quick. So rather than using distance to determine how far ahead to apply your signal, I say you should use time. You should apply your signal at least five seconds ahead of when you intend to make your move (assuming you aren’t swerving out the way to avoid something in the road, such as the debris from the car at which I fired one of my nerd-designed missiles), but no more than ten seconds. If you leave it on more than ten seconds, it’s quite probable that everyone, including yourself, will forget that it’s on. But the main thing is to avoid flipping it on at literally the last moment, even though that’s what New York State law allows.

You see, it really doesn’t do anybody any good if you wait until you’ve already hit the brakes and started turning your wheel to flip on the turn signal telling the driver behind you (“Me”) that you’re about to make a turn, when the fact that you are in the process of making that turn already gave it away. How much help do you think flipping on the signal last is going to do? The purpose of a directional indicator is to indicate to the people around you which direction you intend to go, not which direction you already started going. The only good applying it after you made your move does is to confirm that, yes, you don’t know how to drive properly. The fact that you were probably taught to drive by your parents, who didn’t know how to drive, either, is the reason our car insurance rates are so high. The fact that driving has become such an essential part of American life is reason enough to require all future drivers be taught by professionals, not by someone who leaves the turn signal on for ten miles. No, if you already have your license you will be grandfathered in, even if you’re a grandfather.

And by all means, do use that signal if you’re doing anything that would come across as “unexpected” to the non-psychic behind you (“Me”). That includes pulling over to the side of the road. That would be one of those excellent occasions where some way of telling the guy behind you (“Me”) that he can swing around you and get on with his life would be appreciated. It’s just like you’re turning into a driveway, except you’re not actually turning into a driveway. But you still have to put on the signal (I’m guessing it’s going to be to the right), then apply the brakes, then slide off to the side of the road, preferably far enough off so that your car won’t be sticking out into the lane. That reminds me. Why do so many people think they don’t need to use their turn signals if they’re taking a right-hand exit off the highway, or moving into the lane to their right, or making a right-hand turn at an intersection? You still have to let the enraged maniac behind you (“Me”) know what you intend to do, especially if it’s going to involve slowing down, which I’m pretty sure that guy behind you (“Me”) doesn’t want to do.

But you know, turn signals aren’t just for indicating a complete change in direction (such as perpendicular to the one you were going). They’re also good for letting the cars around you driving at speeds in excess of 65 MPH (and the legal speed limit) that you’re considering cutting over in front of the car moving up swiftly in the lane to your left (“Me”). Now, in these cases, it isn’t always necessary to hit the brakes, but you still want to turn on that signal a few seconds before you make the actual maneuver. Again, once your car has already swung over in front of mine, causing me to either brake fiercely, swear loudly, crap pungently, or perhaps some combination of all three, what’s the goddamn point of putting on your turn signal then? It’s not like you’re preparing me for something. The best thing is to glance in your side view (and rear view) mirrors, turn your head to check your blind spot, hit the signal, then wait a beat or two before making your move. And for crying out loud, if you’re going to move over into a lane of traffic that’s going faster than you were, do hit the gas and speed up. (Remember Wayne’s Driving Rule #1.) Otherwise there was no point in moving over in front of the impatient asshole coming up hard on your ass (“Me”).

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss bad turn signal users, bad presidential candidates, bad breath, or anything else you wish to discuss.

56 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 19, 2015: Driving Me Crazy – This Isn’t Any Signal

  1. The State Trooper had testified he was in the right-hand lane, travelling north on the 4-lane US 1 between Baltimore and Washington. He observed me move from the left lane to the right lane in front of the vehicle he was following. He also saw me accelerate then return to the left lane in front of the vehicle I had been behind. When questioned, by me acting as my own attorney, he admitted that at no time did I exceed the speed limit. He had seen my turn signal operating when I made my first lane change and the vehicle he was following did not veer, brake or slow down. Though he did not see my signal when I returned to the left lane he also did not see brake lights on the vehicle nor did it veer when I moved in front of it. Though I had not violated any rules or regulations the judge went with the Trooper that I had made an unsafe lane change found me guilty and fined me!

    So tell me some more about proper signaling… πŸ™‚

    • I’ve heard there’s an old saying among lawyers about people who represent themselves. But since I’m not a lawyer, I won’t repeat it. πŸ™‚

      While it could get expensive, I know, there has to be a way to appeal obviously incorrect rulings in traffic court. After all, the SCOTUS has appellate review for just about all cases, and I’m pretty sure the Framers didn’t intend for that to exclude traffic court.

      I probably would have been thrown in jail (unconstitutionally, I might add), but I would have screamed and yelled corruption at that ruling. There was no legal basis for the judge’s ruling other than the cop’s obviously inadequate testimony. Basically, he admitted he didn’t see you do anything illegal, so how could the judge rightfully convict.

      I know there will be some who claim I’m wrong, but a judge below the level of SCOTUS does not have unlimited power.

      • There was a lesson that this fool learned from the above, but not until several months later did I learn it…

        Back in 1968, when this occurred, there was a place called Shakey’s Pizza Parlor just a block or so from the Hyattsville Courthouse. Shakey’s was a big room with 20-30 full size picnic tables. Waitresses served pizza and beer and, during busy periods, piano players played sing-a-long songs. I had been singing, eating pizza, drinking beer and talking too a woman sitting across from me. I related the story of what had recently happened too me in court and the embarrassment of having to have a business associate pay the fine to get me released.

        Sometimes a learned lesson feels like a knock in the head as mine did when the woman across the table chuckled and asked if I drove a 1966 Chevrolet convertible, Super Sport model, 4 on the floor transmission with a big 396 engine? In addition to being the secretary to the judge who fined me, this woman was dating the trooper who had issued the ticket! She well remembered the case and related how the trooper and judge chuckled about it in chambers later. It seems that they didn’t like young men with new high powered cars.

        The lesson I learned that day was to not only have an attorney when you go to court but to make sure your attorney knows the ins and outs of the system you happen to be facing.

        Oh, I reacted to her information by knocking over my beer glass then getting up and leaving.

        Even though the company I worked for was located off US 1 and I did a lot of business in DC, I never again traveled through Hyattsville to get there, detouring either to US 29 to the west of Rt. 1 or the B-W Parkway to the east.

  2. Don’t feel bad about Tebow getting cut from his most recent NFL roster, he’s comfortably employed with the SEC Network as an analyst.

  3. The Oregon Ducks are playing in town today. Since I don’t own a Ducks shirt, cuz that seems weird to me, I’m wearing my Vandals t-shirt, along with yellow and green elastics holding my ponytail. Doing my part for the cause.

    I have no idea who the Ducks are playing against. I doubt it’s the Vandals. πŸ˜†

  4. Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson are vainly trying to talk Auburn into remaining competitive with LSU on the CBS SEC game of the week. They aren’t having much luck. πŸ˜€

    • Gee, wonder who gave him the ‘talking points’.
      That child will get out in the world and then be really embarrassed he’d made those videos.

    • I loved it when my men were 13 years old and had an opinion. They’d spout off with the utmost confidence, then I’d ask a series of questions that boiled down to “Maybe citing your source as being ‘this guy at school’ isn’t the best way to support an argument/opinion?”

      I didn’t tell them they were wrong, but I didn’t leave them unchallenged, and that’s what this kid needs — someone to make him THINK, rather than spout off his drivel without being able to support it.

      • Amen. I smell practiced teabagger propaganda input. Reminds me of a line from some years back, went like this:

        “All propaganda has to be popular and has to adapt its spiritual level to the perception of the least intelligent of those towards whom it intends to direct itself.” ~A. Hitler, Mein Kampf

        • Couple that with reports I’ve heard that Trump keeps copies of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside, and it all starts making sense. And of course there’s Godwin’s Law, so nobody is allowed to point out exactly what he’s doing. I’m becoming concerned that Trump could become a very dangerous man.

          • Oh, he is a very dangerous man, Wayne.
            What is frightening – more and more people are following him only because he’s rude and crude with no redeeming qualities.

          • Godwin’s “law” applies mostly to hyperbolic and inaccurate comparisons to Nazism (far right wing politic, i.e. fascism) and to Hitler; in essence, it mocks comparisons. Far right politics remain far right politics, however, and things Hitler said and wrote remain things Hitler said and wrote. But the fact remains, Hitler was an ‘intelligent’ far right wing nutcase, one whose writings and speeches delineate his radical right wing philosophies as well as those of most any other far right wing personage, including those from here in the USA. And at this point in time, it sounds very much as though the Tea Party — also Donald Trump — pretty well define the fascist goals of absolute power and authority, to be gained thru spurious tactics such as propaganda to collect and group the uninformed citizenry, and focused hatred to cement the collection and inspire it to yell ‘Heil!”

            Trump seems to understand (and apply) the methodology as well as anyone has in a long time.

  5. This 8:15pm start for Alabama – Ole Miss is going to be tough. I may have trouble staying awake, even if the game is close.

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