August 15, 2005

An Open Letter To My Fellow Motorists

Dear Fellow Motorists:

First, I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Ryan Rhodes. Like you, I'm a motorist, a person who journeys from place to place in a motorized vehicle. My vehicle is a car.

Make no mistake; I am not a perfect motorist. I make my share of driving oopsies. They're typically minor oopsies, like almost merging without seeing you in my blind spot. For that and other oopsies, I apologize.

Today, my fellow motorists, I have to take an opportunity to chastise you for a spreading epidemic within our ranks that threatens the very fabric of our motorist existence. I've noticed a growing problem, and I feel it is my duty to point out this problematic trend and try to reverse it before it gets completely out of control, although I may, in fact, be too late.

You see, dear motorists, perhaps you've forgotten, or perhaps you've never known, that there's a stick-like appendage that juts out from the steering column of every automobile. In most vehicles, it's on the left. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with this protruding device while I explain its use.

You'll notice, if you push up or down on the sticklike protusion, it will lock into place and, depending on which direction--up or down--you pushed it, a corresponding flashing light will appear somewhere on your dashboard.

Likewise, on the front and back of your vehicle, lights will begin flashing on either the right or left side--again, depending on which direction you pushed the sticklike protrusion.

The flashing lights are commonly referred to as blinkers, or turn signals, or trajectory change indicators, or intent-to-turn heads-uppers. Simply stated, these lights let other motorists know that you're about to make a turn, or that you're about to merge, or, in the case of hazard lights, that you're having vehicle trouble and need assistance.

Please, dear motorists, for the love of Jeebus: START USING YOUR DAMNED INTENT-TO-TURN HEADS-UPPERS!!

I can't take it any more! They're very simple to operate! Mind numbingly easy to operate! If your blinker is on the left of the steering column, and you want to turn right, push it up. If you're going to turn left, push it down. Reverse this in the odd chance your blinker stick is on the right. It's actually really quite intuitive.

Yet, every day, every SINGLE day, I encounter at least five of you who apparently think using your turn singles burns up blinker fluid or something. Newsflash: there's no such thing as blinker fluid! So, use your blinker!

You know when you're at a four way stop or traffic signal, and you don't use your blinker? Guess what? People assume you're going to go straight. When you don't, it can be kind of surprising to your fellow motorists, who were patiently waiting for you to pass straight by, but then you suddenly hang a left and. . . HOLY CRAP I almost hit you! You absent-minded dill hole!

Ever more nerve-wracking are those of you who merge and weave maniacally in and out of traffic without even the mere hint of advance notice. Newsflash: other motorists can not read your mind and, if you somehow think we can, chances are pretty good your mind is probably not worth reading. Blinkers, people, blinkers!! I cannot stress enough the importance of this apparently alien automotive alert system.

Thank you. That is all.

Yours truly,

A Nerve-Wracked Motorist

Posted by Ryan at August 15, 2005 06:30 PM | TrackBack

I'll freely admit I give little to no notice when I'm going to merge into another lane.

The reason for this is experience. That experience being that many times, I'll look in the lane I want to merge into. I'll see an open space next to me. I turn on my turn signal only to have the guy behind me speed up to fill the gap so I can't merge.

Rather than give him advance warning, I simply turn on the turn signal as I'm merging. Hence indicating my shift into his lane is intentional and if you speed up to try to close the gap, by God I'm going to smash your head in.

Do I like being a prick? No. But it beats being enternally stuck in the same lane because someone doesn't like the fact that I'm joining him in his lane.

Posted by: Kevin at August 16, 2005 12:02 AM

Kevin is right, you can't give advance warning when shifting lanes, especially in rush hour. At least not too-far-in-advance warning. If you signal and wait for someone to let you in, you'll never change lanes.

I with ya, Ryan, on turns. Signal in advance, then brake, then turn.

How freakin' hard can that be?

Of course a couple roof-mounted .30 cal mini-guns with the helmet that aims the guns where your head is turned would solve all of MY problems on the road.

Posted by: Rob@L&R at August 16, 2005 07:19 AM

I always signal. Might be a bit late if I realized that I need to turn and I didn't intend to.

You know there is some models of cars that the blinkers doen't work on... at least the drivers think they don't work ;-).

Posted by: Mike Wills at August 16, 2005 08:15 AM

Seriously, out of every town I drive in, including Minneapolis, Rochester is by far the worst town for lack of blinker usage. I can't even keep track of how many times I've almost smacked someone because I assume they're going straight and then turn in front of me. Fuckers.

Posted by: Rick at August 16, 2005 11:59 AM

When I bought my car, blinkers were optional, so I didn't get them.
And I am one of those people that when the lanes go to one lane, I drive in the blocked lane all the way till the signs actually block it off and then it never fails, some idiot lets me in. It's pretty funny. (I never let the idiot that drives all the way to the end in myself, what a bitch huh?) And if I'm in a long line of traffic and someone tries to pass in the break down lane, I block them. Driving in NM is a war, and I intend to take no prisoners. But after having driven here, you can drive ANYWHERE! No one has worse drivers than here per capita, and we have the stats to prove it.

Posted by: Donna at August 16, 2005 05:29 PM

My favorite is waiting to turn onto a road and being unable to because their is a car coming and then said car turns in where you are trying to turn out WITHOUT SIGNALING. I COULD HAVE PULLED OUT 60 SECONDS AGO YOU STUPID BASTARD. Thank you for this post. I fucking hate people.

Posted by: heather at August 17, 2005 12:17 PM

OMG, did I say "their is a car"? Yeah, you know that I didn't mean that. Back off, I just woke up.

Posted by: Heather at August 17, 2005 12:18 PM

i'm glad someone else has noticed that americans have deemed the use of turn signals "optional".

as i wrote earlier this month (, it totally pisses me off and i have taken to actually HONKING at people on the freeway if they switch lanes in front of me without signalling, even if there was plenty of room. you never know when that might have saved a life, you know?

Posted by: leblanc at August 17, 2005 04:48 PM

as for those of you who seem to think that signalling somehow inhibits your ability to merge - fuck you. seriously.

Posted by: leblanc at August 17, 2005 04:50 PM

it's obvious, Amy, that you've never driven in the DC-Metro area.

If there is room for you to change lanes, you turn your signal on and if you don't IMMEDIATELY move to the other lane, the driver behind would rather tailgate the car in front of them than let you in.

And if you're merging onto the highway, most people would rather tailgate than let you on the highway. They won't even move to the other lane.

There is something about most drivers around here; they just can't tolerate someone getting in front of them.

& I've noticed 7 out of 10 of those types will have Kerry/Edwards bumper stickers.

Posted by: Rob@L&R at August 18, 2005 10:11 AM

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I think people who do not use their blinkers are a menace to society.

Posted by: Bob at September 6, 2005 02:49 PM
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