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bread, peace, land and directionals

by michele at 11:02 AM on October 25, 2001

I have appointed myself to a new position within our government's administration. I am now the Driving Czar. It is my job to make sure this nation follows the rules and regulations set forth by various legislative codes in regards to driving.

There are an awful lot of you out there who either don't know the rules or have just chosen to ignore them. This is bad. This makes for unsafe highways, road rage and a nation of cursers. We need less hostility, folks, and obeying the laws of the road can go a long way towards making for a peaceful existence.

I'm going to start off with the basics. Refamiliarize you with the general rules of courtesy, respect and proper driving habits. The first, and most important, is:

Use Of Turning Signals. You may call them directionals, or blinkers. Whatever the culture of your particular geographic region dictates (like a pop/soda thing), this much is clear: YOU HAVE TO USE THEM

Let me walk you through this. Imagine you are driving. Grab hold of the imaginary steering wheel (hands at 10 and 2 of course). Now, take your left hand and move it to the left of the steering wheel. If you wiggle your fingers a bit, you should hit the directional lever. Bet you didn't even know it was there!

With me so far? Ok, now suppose you are going to make a left hand turn, or switch to the lane to your left (when switching lanes, it is a good idea to make sure that the lane you are going into is for traffic headed the same way as you). Put your hand on the lever and push it gently down. You should hear a ticking sound or, in some cases, a dinging. If you look on your dashboard, there should be a little blinking arrow lit up, pointing to the left. This means you have succeeded in turning on your directional (I know you are pretending at the moment, so just visualize, ok?). Once the lever is down and the sound and/or arrow are indicating leftward movement, you may proceed to make sure your path is clear, and then continue on with your intended movement. If you are looking to make a rightward movement, apply all the preceding steps, except move the lever UP instead of DOWN. I know, this is confusing and new. Take a moment to write this all down.

We use our directionals for several reasons. First, it lets other drivers know your intentions. You do not want to be in a left lane, with miles of traffic behind you, and suddenly spring on the driver to your rear that you are going to turn, something that usually takes a few moments to do. Other drivers tend to get nasty when you do this to them, and as Driving Czar, I would like to see a reduction in the percentage of irate drivers. Second, if you are changing lanes, this lets other drivers know. This is important because if you switch lanes without signaling, people will make up new and creative things to call you. They will not be pleasant things. They may even use their own signal of sorts, when they stick their hand out of their car window and salute you with their middle finger held up. This means they are mad. If it is accompanied by cursing and name-calling, they are a bit more than mad. They may tailgate you and/or harass you. And honestly, as Driving Czar, I give them the liberty to do this. People who do not use their directionals are subject to any kind of abuse that other drivers may throw at them, and I will not deter these pissed off drivers from smacking you upside your head once they catch up to you. Think of them as my street team. My personal driving vigilantes.

So letís recap. Using directionals good. Not using directionals bad. Good means less mad drivers. Bad means you get bitchslapped. Go to your cars and practice. I know you will get the hang of it eventually.

comments (23)

Turn signals are not used int the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area AT ALL. If you see someone using their tuen signal, they are a clueless out-of-towner. (Pristine: am I right?) In fact, if you do try to use a turn signal to change lanes here, the person behind you in the lane you're trying to move to will floor it, and make sure there is NO WAY for you to get over. So if you want to change lanes, the only way to do it is NOT to use your signal. Neither should you depend on a person's turn signal at an intersection. If you are at a crossroads, and you think the other car is turning because their signal is on, there's a 70 percent chance he or she is NOT turning, but somehow accidently hit the lever and just hasn't noticed it yet. If you think they're turning, you could end up in a nasty accident. This is especially true because 88.5% of all vehicles in DFW are Suburbans. Also if you try to indicate a turn with your turn signal, the other person will assume it's on by mistake and zom right past you. I have actually been at a light, my signal on to turn right, and had people behind me HONK after the light changed green and I was waiting for a break in opposing traffic to turn. They wondered why I wasn't going, as if my signal was just on by mistake.WHen they realise you do wish to execute a turn, the procedure in Dallas is to take your suburban, drive up on the curb/sidewalk, and pass the person trying to turn. Because they're in a hurry damn it! And you know they are so important....god forbid someone change lanes and get in front of you . . .no, that won't do at all.

by Charles at October 25, 2001 11:14 AM

While I certainly approve of your programme to increase the proper use of turn signals, I believe you have left out a vitally important piece of the puzzle: People who never turn their blinkers off.

Increasing turn signal use will end up being counterproductive if it merely results in more old men with hats driving 50 in the passing lane with their left turn singal on (there are several issues for you to deal with in your newly self-appointed position, but we're only dealing with turn signal issues today, it seems).

Those of us who regularly use our signals would appreciate it if you would issue a decree authorizing the use of deadly force on people who don't turn their signals off. At the very least, I think you should go over there and bitchslap them, too. Thank you for your time and consideration.

by Muad'Dib at October 25, 2001 11:23 AM

Isn't leaving your directionals on like that sort of the driving equivalent of walking around with your fly open?

by Wendy at October 25, 2001 11:36 AM

Charles, I've heard similar things about Houston driving. Maybe it's a Texan thing?

I have a friend whose turn signals once shorted out. He didn't want to get them fixed. He also didn't actually have a license, so whenever a cop was behind him, he had to just keep driving straight until the cop went away.

Maybe everyone's signals are broken and no one has a license.

Also, yay cross-departmental cabinet level positions named after emperors.

by space at October 25, 2001 12:34 PM

Two observations: the other day, I was behind one of those enormous Ford Expeditions (the ones that seat 8 passengers, and their SUVs), at a stoplight, & i noticed this cool turn signal arrow blinking in the side mirror! i thought this was so clever, & related it to my passenger who said, oh, they've been doing that for years, Mercedes started it, and I thought, gosh, you'd think I'd have noticed that -- if they ever used the things. That one must have been an aberration.

Second observation, about the turn signals on for no reason - I do this. Right after I got my Buick, I was driving down the freeway and all of a sudden the car starts in with it's little chiming - bong, bong, bong (that's what it said! i swear!) and I'm looking around frantically for some sort of warning light, then it dawned on me, my turn signal was on! That's why it's good to buy a car meant for old people - it reminds you of stuff you forget.

by kd at October 25, 2001 4:18 PM

One more thing to remember when using your turn signal: be sure to signal BEFORE you turn. It doesn't do any good to turn it on after you have changed lanes.

Also, do you need to use a signal if you are in a turn lane? It seems kind of redundant to me.

by MrBlank at October 25, 2001 4:45 PM

One of my pet peeves is when people don't ever use signals. On the admittedly few times I've handed the keys over to my boyfriend, the entire ride has been punctuated with my saying "don't forget to signal". My other pet peeve - people who never tunr them off. I applaud your beginning programs as Driving Czar.

by SwingCheese at October 25, 2001 4:50 PM

Thank you for your feedback. I will be instituting a new law making the act of leaving your signals on too long punishable by having to spend a whole night in an dark, scary house listening to Mariah Carey records. Turning on your signal after you change lanes is punishable by spending a whole night with Mariah Carey. Let that be a lesson to you.

If anyone has anything they would like to see on my Cell Phone Decree, feel free to email me.

Thank you

Driving Czar (rhymes with car!)

by michele at October 25, 2001 5:05 PM

Great topic, Squee. I've been meaning to write an essay on this for a long time.

BTW, How come cops NEVER use turn signals? Shouldn't they setting a good example for the rest of us drivers?

MrBlank, I think you should use turn signals in turn lanes. At some point you might have to turn back into the traffic stream for some reason.

Anyway, if you get into the habit of using turn signals, you do it automatically. I use mine even when I'm on a completely deserted highway, just out of habit.

by Ryan at October 25, 2001 6:05 PM

I think they stopped putting turn signals in BMWs, at least in the Bay Area. See Wes' notes, http://www.killerrobot.com/bmw/notes.html.

by Jessica at October 25, 2001 6:58 PM

One more note - this should be added to the turn signal decree - just because you have your turn signals on is no excuse to drift listlessly across several lanes of traffic at about half the speed of that traffic. Signalling for a turn or lane change does not give you the right of way, or mean that you should not worry about how many people have to slam on their brakes for you to complete your maneuver.

by kd at October 25, 2001 7:45 PM

I will be happy to spend an entire night with Mariah Carey - provided she isn't allowed to talk or sing.

by Muad'Dib at October 26, 2001 12:47 AM

Just a little addendum... if you're using your turn signal because you're wanting to change lanes, please change lanes when it's clear. I dunno how many times I've left space for someone to change lanes, and go for like, a mile with no change, then I decide "fuck him, I'm going", and then of course, they decide to change lanes right then. grrrrr

And those turn signals in the mirror? I'm CONVINCED that they're not made for to aid other cars on the road to see the driver's intentions, oh no. They're made for the stupid driver always seems to forget that their own turn signal is on. The only problem is that the automakers are presuming that people actually USE mirrors...

So when's the lesson on mirror use? Personally, I can't wait for the "The Rear View Mirror - not just a hook to hang fuzzy dice on anymore" lesson...

by mikey at October 26, 2001 1:57 AM

Yes, sad but true, in DFW/Houston/Austin oh hell ALL over freaking Texas; they just stopped installing turn signals all together! See, it is a known fact in the DFW area, as Charles said, if you put your signal on it is a given that everyone that sees it thinks it is the "green" light at the Indy 500! Not only that (Charles correct me if I am over stepping it here) but on Central or 635/LBJ if you (a) hits someone from behind or (b) someone hits your behind, unless you THINK you are hurt at the time, you DONT stop! This is no shit! Today on 635 a semi truck lost his load, covering three lanes. Traffic was backed-up all the way to Loop 12 (for those of you who have no clue lets just say about 20 full miles were a parking lot during rush hour traffic!) And as people try to worm their way closer to their homes, there is a tap here, and a tap there and not one soul even blinked at it! Unless your car is a total loss, these people just keep going! And the mayor of Dallas is trying in vein get the Olympics to be hosted in Dallas....CHARLES THEN WHAT IN THE FUCK ARE WE GOING TO DO??? Can you imagine 50% more traffic trying to "blend" in with these no turn signal, bumping like crazy idiots we must deal with??? My suggestion? CATCH A CAB if you have no clue about DFW. If you DO have a clue, then drive like the rest of the animals or it is your ass around here....

by Pristine at October 26, 2001 1:58 AM

Crap. May be the Bad Samritan, but I know how to use a turn signal. I even use it when I'm on the road, alone, with no traffic coming in either direction. I'd rather use the signal when it wasn't signalling anyone, then get out of practice and forget to use it when it would make a difference. I even use my turn signal when making turns onto one way streets.

I'm just that good a driver. Actually, I'm kind of peeved I wasn't named Driving Czar. I suppose I should be happy with my Sexy Webmaster Czar position.

by mg at October 26, 2001 2:40 AM

You know, I forget which city, it's either Dallas or Houston, that has the highest traffic fatality rate in the nation. Now I understand why. I lived in Phoenix for a year, and it was at #3 or 4 at the time in fatalities, I saw more major injury accidents in my first WEEK there than in my whole life in California. Elderly snowbirds = death.

by kd at October 26, 2001 3:36 AM

mg, you can be the assistant driving czar, just in case I get arrested for a case of road rage and cannot fulfill my duties.

I was going to do the cell phone thing next, but because I witnessed an accident yesterday that involved a 78 year old woman who just had no clue, I may be a *really* bad samaritan and issue a decree that old people should just stay home. .

by michele at October 26, 2001 5:54 AM

They announced today that DFW lost the Olympic bid. HAHAHA I always thought that was a joke. You all, the plans were to have some events in Dallas, some in Fort Worth, some in Plano, some in Irving . . .all in all some of the venues would have been about 60 miles apart. Oh, and by the way, there is no mass transit to speak of here. What a joke. Yeah, I can just see 6 German tourists in a rent-a-car trying to drive 183 to Fort Worth to catch a tennis match. Ha! Not to mention we have an ugly, featureless landscape and no cultural attractions at all to speak of. What were they going to do? Go see where Kennedy got shot and then out to the new outlet mall? The local politicos here crack me up. Of course, I'm sure they spent several million dollars on the bid. (The US cities that made the cut were NYC, DC, SF, and HOUSTON - don't ask me about that last one!) Oh - we were talking about this at work. I said, "They are trying to bring the Olympics to Dallas" and a girl I work with says (I kid you not) "Summer or Winter?"

by Charles at October 27, 2001 2:07 AM

I've always heard about the culturelessness and stupidity of Texans. Personally, I'd never set foot in that country (yeah, I don't count it as a state). Glad to hear that someone is trying to take a little responsibility for idiot drivers though.

by r Base at February 7, 2002 5:31 PM

I own a 1988 Chevy Suburban and I drive in the Washington DC, Northern Virginia area. Many of you probably don't care, but this area is very uneducated about driving laws. Or the high-powered people (or those who think they are) around here just don't care. When driving on the highway anywhere in DC or Northern VA, they don't seem to care about direction signals, if they do, they put them on for one blink, and then they turn them off and change lanes. This is all done at 80 MPH +. The speed limit is 65, but poeple don't know how to read around here either. There is a new law in effect, cutting down on aggresive driving, so that may help. I hop eit does, becuase those of you who drive big vehilcles carefully and respectfully, know that it is only a matter of timre before someone cuts you off.

by at June 24, 2003 12:23 PM

Thank you for your comments. I hope you are still out there working on this. I think we should form a coalition and get a Driving Czar from every state to work with the ELECTED officials to work on this constant problem. They spend so much time setting up traps and educating the world on Seat Belt usage and we would not have near as many accidents taking so many lives if perhaps they addressed the real problem - those that refuse to use their turn signals (that's what we call them in Michigan) or are just so incosiderate of all the other people driving on our roads and highways. I too ALWAYS use my signals even when going from row to row in a parking lot where no other cars are parked or wanting to park. IT JUST MAKES GOOD SENSE and I totally support your efforts and would like to join forces with you. THANK YOU DRIVING CZAR - YOU ROCK!!!!

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by alexander armstrong at October 9, 2005 8:09 PM

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by kyle taylor at October 9, 2005 8:21 PM

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