On the turn signal

[This is my favorite thing that I wrote in college.]

I would like to share with you an invention I am fairly sure you are not acquainted with. It is a little gadget in my car that I have found to be extremely useful. It’s located on a handle on the left-hand side of my steering wheel along with the driving lights. I believe the name for it is a “turn signal.”

The turn signal is a marvelous thing. It’s quite interesting, really, that the use of it has not caught on. From what I gather from reading my car manual, the signal should be used to alert other drivers when one is changing lanes, passing another car, or, of course, turning. By pushing the handle up or down, you can either signal to the right or the left, and apparently, lights on the front and back of your car flash accordingly. If used properly, each driver on the road will know the intentions of every other driver. Accidents could be avoided and road rage would, in many cases, be greatly diminished.

Unfortunately, every day we are presented wtih examples of people who are not aware of this fantastic device. Why, just today on my way home I counted at least three people who did not properly signal when changing lanes. One of these tragically misinformed people was actually smart enough to use her cellular phone and drive at the same time, a task I would estimate to be much harder than using a turn signal. If this woman and others like her were only aware of their turn signals, they would certainly use them upon every available opportunity. We need to open the miracles of modern technology to drivers like these, capable people who must be simply ignorant of the wonders their vehicles possess. Think of all the misguided drivers who, when turning, simply slow down (usually directly in front of another innocent driver). If they only knew that there was a way to keep other drivers from using their horn and making obscene gestures, they would most certainly take advantage of it.

There are some over-zealous drivers who, upon discovering the turn signal, feel that they should let everyone know of its existence by leaving it on all the time. This, unfortunately, is not the proper use of the turn signal. While not only confusing and distracting other drivers by signaling when there is no intention of turning, it can also be quite annoying for passengers in the said car, as the signal makes a repetitive clicking sound audible within the car until the turn or lane change is completed. Proper turn signal etiquette involves signaling a reasonable distance before turning, preferably before brakes have been used. The generally accepted distance varies depending on the driving speed.

The rules are less strict when it comes to lane changes, but one should always remember that the signal should never be used as an excuse for cutting people off in the desired lane. A signal does not guarantee entry into a lane where there is, in fact, not room for your car. Another important point is to always take care to signal the direction you intend to turn. Again, it can greatly confuse other drivers when you are signaling to the left and turn to the right.

On a personal note, I have heard that North Carolinians are reported to be notorious for not signaling. My fellow statesmen and women, we cannot continue to let others mock us in this way. By simply signaling, we can show them that we are not stupid Southern rednecks, but that we are fully aware of how to properly operate our vehicles, pickup trucks though they may be.

I hope that upon the discovery of this innovative invention, you will join me in championing the turn signal. A national campaign could be very useful in informing people of this device and its marvelous uses. I encourage you to use your turn signal upon every available opportunity, keeping in mind the golden rules of turn signal etiquette outlined for you above. If America wants to stay competitive globally, we need to start taking advantage of our technology. We must, therefore, take this information to the streets, the highways, and the dirt roads of America. Remember, the turn signal is not just a useful item that can save many lives and tempers. Our position as a world leader could depend on it.

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