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turn, turn, turn

I wrote something a while ago at Bad Sam and I think it need repeating.

I had appointed myself the Driving Czar of the world and I wrote about one of the cardinal rules of driving: using your directional signals. Now that the nice weather is here and people pay even less attention than usual becauset hey are too busy sticking their heads out the window looking at the pre-pubescent girls in tops made out of one thin strip of cloth, the rules need to be gone over once more. (Yes, let's just say I had an incident this morning).

(Originally written in 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.

(note: running for the presidency means I will have to give up my driving czar position, so it's up for grabs)


You insensitive clod! This is disrespectful of southern culture, which, in its Official Guide to Southern Culture states, and I quote, "Whut in tarnation is a 'tern segnul'!?"

And to quote an email I received upon arriving in the south for college: "Most Southerners do not use turn signals, and they ignore those who do. In fact, if you see a signal blinking on a car with a southern license plate, you may rest assured that it was on when the car was purchased. "

I hope you realize the error of your ways may cause irreversible damage to southern culture. I reckon' you weren't aware of that.

Although it's admittedly rarer, what's even worse is when people use THE WRONG SIGNAL. This is not only mind-boggingly stupid (on the order of, "do you often forget how to walk upright?") but genuinely dangerous--now there's a prime candidate for a Darwin Award.

As for the previous comment, I understand after three years in New Orleans that stopping for a red light is also only optional, especially for that time gradation between "red" and "just (turned) red." Admittedly, I haven't that quite as much here in Tallahassee, so as with many things, New Orleans may not be typical of the South, or of anywhere else.

A brief comment on turn signals.

I might blow my whole voting demographic by saying this, but I am in total agreement with the turn signal mandate AND I might add my own personal loathing of minivans to the mix? Take one already spring-season distracted driver, add cellular phone and two- to six screaming children for passengers and you have a recipie for disaster. Nearly every "incident" I have managed to survived has involved a massively idiotic minivan driver.

Driving Czar. I like it. Since it's up for grabs. . . ??

I would like to introduce a bill for the new Driving Czar's consideration. There is the law that one can't get a license until they are 16, but there should also be a law that once you hit 60 that's it. No more driving. 16 & 60, easy to remember. Some senior citizens may complain at first, but after a few minutes will forget what they are upset about.
I gaurantee the percentage of road rage in the country will drop dramatically after this law is passed.

Girls: No putting on makeup while driving!!!

Everybody: No reading the newspaper while driving.

I have lots more, but these two Darwin activities could take me out, too!

P.S. Girls: No putting on Makeup while driving!

i got plowed by an SUV a couple weeks ago and it totaled my car. they were using their turn signal they just didn't bother to look before they decided to get in the lane i was in!

turn signals are optional in my neck of the woods and while it bothers me sometimes i never get up in arms over it. what i do get up in arms over is when some damn yankee thinks he's still in the big city and beeps his damn horn if you don't floor it when the light turns green. you don't do this in the south. it's rude and when in rome ...

Hey! Just because YOU don't like to ogle young girls in skimpy tops doesn't mean WE can't!

gee Beags that is pretty harsh for the 60 year olds, most of whom do not regard themselves as OLD. Some of them are still working too. I don't think you can lump everyone together like that. Now ere you to make it harder for an elder person to get their license back after an accident where they were clearly at fault I might go along with you.
Having said that I am in total agreement about using turn signals. One of the things that marks me as a non texan is that I use mine. I am convinced that most peopel in Houston have no idea where they are even located.

Turn signals are just the tip of the iceberg. The clueless drivers were out in my area at lunch today - not quite as badly as the time someone turned left in front of me from a right-turn only lane, but bad enough that my lunch companion was wondering what was going on.

I've always been fond of Gallagher's suggestion that each licensed driver should be given a gun that shot darts with ribbons attached to them. When another driver did something stupid and dangerous, you'd fire a dart into their trunk. When the police saw someone with too many darts in their trunk, they could pull 'em over and give them a ticket for being an asshole.

Has driving czar been assigned yet? I believe that I would do wonderfully with this job. I am the mistress of road rage, the queen of icy glares, and I will glady crack the whip of justice against the back of any and all who do improper things with motor vehicles.