I need to know where you’re going

Published 4:56 pm Monday, August 2, 2010

Many of my columns have addressed driving safety because I think it’s something we can all relate to. Also, it helps me to take out some of my frustrations on paper rather than on the road.

We all have the tendency to develop bad driving habits, and even the best drivers mess up from time to time. But it seems one of the most recurring issues is the failure to use directional signals.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I do not use my signal every time I make a turn. For example, if it’s late at night and I’m turning into my driveway, and there’s no one in sight, I might not signal. I wouldn’t advise anyone to follow that example because it’s probably best to always signal.

But I make an effort to signal if someone is around me, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it helps the other driver (at least in theory). If you know the direction I intend to go, then you can use that information and apply it to your driving. That information might help you to react faster if you have to put on your brakes.

I have come to expect people to not use their signals. But I still get peeved when people fail to do it, simply because of the lack of courtesy. From my perspective, if I don’t know where you’re going, I must wait until you pass before I make my next decision.

There is another side to this coin. You can’t always trust signals when you see them. Plenty of crashes have occurred due to this misunderstanding. For example, if you intend to pull out onto a main road and someone is approaching with a turn signal on, it’s best to wait until they slow down and confirm that they are indeed going to make the turn before taking any action.

I think we can all be better drivers in these situations. Driving requires us to be alert at all times, and we must never allow emotions or the desire to hurry to get in the way.

A good rule is to never make a move on the road unless you “know” it’s a safe move.