Turn Signal Tactics

Why do so many drivers these days act as if they possess no common courtesy for others on the roadways? Does having control of a ton or more of motorized metal compel people to be pricks? Being behind the wheel turns off the kindness switch in so many people that I’d say we’re in the midst of an epidemic. It’s not something that afflicts everyone; yet, it occurs so frequently that I believe that we’re moving from pandemic phase five to the worldwide catastrophic phase six of aggressive automobile acrimony. I guess you could just call it road rage, but that would be too easy.

Well, over the past few years of my life, I’ve lived and driven in Washington, DC, southern California and now Abu Dhabi in the UAE. Driving in each of these three locations appears to be a hazard to one’s health and it’s due to the increasing number of selfish, power-tripping vehicular stupers (which is short for remarkably stupid persons). I’m particularly miffed by one inane driving behavior prevalent in all three of these areas: cutting off people who signal to turn into one’s lane. In these locales, tumultuous turn signal tactics are a daily occurrence and I have fallen victim to this punk-ass behavior far too many times.

I’m not referring to people who try to cut into a lane when there’s less than a car length of space available for the maneuver. No, I’m pissed off at those moments when I have more than enough room to enter the neighboring lane, signal to get over and then, suddenly the driver of the car behind me, in the lane that I wish to enter, punches the gas upon seeing my turn signal. What?!?! The driver speeds up to cut me off and keep me out of the lane.

Why? What is the person thinking? “Oh, no, you’re not getting in front of me!” Or is it, “Hey, that signal on the other car is pointing me in the right direction. I should pull up there next to that car, where that signal is pointing.” Hmmm, maybe the person says, “Oh, no! Not my Acute Photosensitive Crural Spasmodic Disorder (APCSD).” This is an increasingly common malady which causes the quadriceps to cramp up when the retina is exposed to a blinking light; thus, forcing the person to inadvertently push the pedal to the metal.

Not only have I seen these rude turn signal cut-offs as someone attempts to change lanes, but also as people are merging. If an inconsiderate driver doesn’t let the person merge into the lane, it often causes the other lane to significantly slow as the lane-changing driver awaits a safe opening. Now an entire lane of drivers behind the patiently signaling driver are forced to slow, too. Ugh! As I’ve mentioned before, when I faced a Canadian Roadblock, my mantra behind the wheel: “Maintain the flow!” Those whose don’t, slowly kill the driver’s soul.

OK, I know some of you are thinking I’m overreacting, but you must be people that live in small towns or regions generally populated by passive people. In moderately-sized cities to large urban areas there’s an increasing number of people who blatantly disregard the fact that the asphalt upon which we travel is shared by everyone. Whether it be a road, alley, roundabout, parking lot or freeway, it’s there for all.

Are you a road raging individual?road rage-2

Take this road rage test to receive an analysis of your driving profile which rates your levels of safety, aggressiveness, courtesy and rage. If you are an aggressive driver and need to chill out, implement the advice on Edmunds’ Top 10 Tips To Prevent Road Rage.

Have you noticed aggressive automobile acrimony on the rise? Ever fall victim to APCSD while signaling to change lanes? What’s your take on all this? Feel free to add your own story with a comment.

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23 Comments

  1. Don’t talk to me about vehicular stupidity (and thank you very much for the mention). It is most definitely on the rapid rise. I have fallen victim to APCSD numerous times. And I never fail to be enraged, I mean, entertained by it.
    As a pedestrian, I’ve even fallen victim to APCSD. While trying to cross Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles, during a light that was green for me, a driver waiting to make a right nearly pushed me out of the crosswalk. Oh, if only strangling was an option…

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  2. Careful!!! The UN and the Foreign Relations Councel may declare this a “crisis” and call for the Brussells APCSD Conference and draw up the treaty called UN Convention to Remedy Acute Photosenstive Crural Spasmodic Disorder. Then Waxman and Frank will introduce a 1250 page bill to ensure the safety of all Americans and Obama will make sure it gets pushed through Congress.

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    1. Actually, I’d love to see something from either of these people, but I’m not sure if it would be the most effective means. I think good ol’ Bill Gates could put his foundation in action to tackle this APCSD crisis and make a global impact.

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  3. Great post, you just have to go with the flow. Most people are dicks and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. The good news is the more our populations grow the worse the problem will get. Who knows maybe someday in the distant future we will have real auto pilot or cars that drive themselves. Once you program the cars coordinates you will be able to just sit back and enjoy the ride.

    Personally though I’m still waiting on the robot and flying cars they promised us in grade school.

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    1. I’m glad you liked it and I think you’re right about the autopilot cars. Maybe it would take the fun out of driving for some, but it would 100% eliminate inconsiderate, dangerous and incompetent behaviors. Despite the fact that I love driving (even amidst this APCSD crisis), I’m all for the fully automated vehicles.

      Yeah, where are those robots and flying cars? The Jetsons was such a tease.

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  4. Those Turn Signal Surges drive me nuts…what are they gaining? I try to comfort myself with the idea that those are the folks who end up taking out a telephone pole when, as it is reported on the news, they lose control of their car.

    How do you lose control? The car doesn’t fight back.

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    1. I often ask myself those same two questions:

      1) What’s there to gain from refusing to let a person in the lane? It can’t be pride. Though, I often believe that’s how the other driver feels about his selfish self.

      2) Yeah, how does one lose control? Maybe it was something similar to APCSD that was to blame?

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  5. I own a car but I rarely use it. I walk everywhere. Turn signals are a particular problem for pedestrians as less and less drivers see any reason to use them. When I cross an intersection I make sure there isn’t a car within a hundred feet, otherwise my chances of crossing without breaking into a sprint are nil. Nobody signals they’re about to turn, nobody stops at the stop sign, and if it’s a “right turn allowed at red light” situation just consider yourself a moving target. With all this I’m still glad I hardly drive anymore. I’m sure my blood pressure has dropped twenty points. I’m an extremely calm person but even I start foaming at the mouth at the obscene discourtesy and insanity on the highway.

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    1. I agree that the dangers while on foot are life-threatening. In DC and in Abu Dhabi I’ve had similar experiences to what you’ve described and sometimes I barely avoid being run down while having the right of way.

      One thing I miss about living in DC was being able to walk everywhere. I’m sure your adding years to your life by walking instead of driving.

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  6. Many years ago, when I was a senior in high school, we had to put our “pet peeves”. Mine was “Not using turn signals”. It drives me insane! Is it really that hard to flip a switch? And if you can’t, should you really be driving? Great blog!

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  7. Love the post! I too am really getting irritated with the selfish drivers here in CA. It didn’t seem to be as bad for me in MN. I am really trying hard not to behave the way they do, but it is really hard to get around especially on the highway if you do use your blinkers over here. I often think, why in the heck did I use my blinker.

    Here is another thing that could be a related selfish spasmodic disorder, that greatly irritates me. How about when drivers decide at the last minute that they need to get in your lane. They usually don’t use thier blinker and once they are in your lane they heavily brake in front of you so they can make thier last minute decision to turn onto another street. I have to react quickly or I will run right into them or make a quick decision to move into the other lane so I don’t hit that inconsiderate driver, but could potentially hit a different car. It is crazy how often this happens. I wish I could tell them to have some consideration, my saftey is at risk, you need to miss your turn and come back to it. Ughhhh!!!

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    1. Hi Jennifer, thanks for sharing your thoughts. The almost complete lack of blinker use in southern CA is something that really got to me, too. It always perplexes me as to why drivers are too lazy, too cool or too ignorant to understand that communicating to other drivers, via a blinker, makes the road a safer place. Or, maybe they forget how deadly a vehicle can be.

      I’ve seen the outrageous driving maneuver that you described on a number of occasions. It’s actually a common one here in Abu Dhabi, because so many intersections are missing street names or signs are not placed in a position to provide advanced warning. Actually, most driving directions are explained almost entirely using landmarks, not street names. There are a number of streets that have multiple names, no name or are not labeled at all. As a result, you’ll regularly see people who realize they need to make a turn at the last minute. Unfortunately, I’ve already witnessed a bunch of near misses and some accidents from people swerving over to turn at the last minute.

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  8. Hey there, CC! I understand where you are coming from. On this side of the planet, we have drivers like the ones you described in almost every corner of all the towns in every major city. This is what you get when you have an enormous number of stressed out people in a congested society. Honestly, I notice how I can become a violent person whenever I drive when, normally, I’m a very peaceful guy. Just keep your cool. The only way to avoid this kind of situation is to avoid driving altogether. =)

    peace and respect,
    Ryhen

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  9. I am bicoastal–I live in San Francisco and Boston and I cannot tell you how different the drivers are in these two places! San Francisco drivers are amongst the most courteous and considerate *anywhere*–and Boston drivers are about the opposite. They are so agressive and downright rude!

    My sister and her husband came to Boston and accidentally went through the Fast Lane and were trying to figure out what to do when this woman behind them got out of her car in a total RAGE and started screaming obscenities at them! People need to relax and realize–if their journey takes an extra 10 minutes–who cares? It’s certainly not worth risking their lives (and their blood pressure) to get angry and insulting at other drivers.

    I am so totally with you on this!

    Melinda

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    1. Now that you mention it, I’m thinking back to the vacation I had in SF and I recall that the drivers were very polite. I’ve noticed that people in that city tend to be more chill all around. As far as Boston goes, I’ve never been and from what I’ve heard, I don’t feel like I’d want to drive when I check it out. I always think it’s pretty scary when someone gets out of the car to confront other drivers. Yikes!

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