“Forget World Peace… Visualize Using Your Turn Signal” — that’s what the bumper sticker I remember from the 90s said. And no place needs it to come back more than Seattle.
Not to say that Seattle drivers don’t user their turn signals. They do. Most of them do every time they make a turn. The problem is, they don’t use them until they make the turn. (Hint: it’s intended to signal what you’re going to do, not what you are doing. It’s supposed to be a help to other drivers, so they can drive more efficiently, and so they can give you space to turn rather than hitting you when you suddenly lurch out into their lane.)
The light turns green, and Seattle drivers just sit there, or maybe they creep halfway into the intersection. Are they asleep? Are they playing with their phone? (Probably.) Are they waiting for ducklings or little old ladies to finish crossing the street? Did they stall out? You’re a car or two back, so you can’t tell. All you really know is that they are sitting there with no signal light flashing, apparently doing nothing.
(Magnifying matters is that I’m usually on my scooter, and in Seattle, it’s probably raining a bit. And I can’t always lane split to get to the front and bypass the hold-up, especially if they are legitimately blocked [because then I feel like an impatient fool].)
Then, just as you’re reaching for your horn (or maybe after), they start to turn and suddenly now there’s their flasher. What, did they hit it with their thumb by accident as they turned the wheel?
You can’t even go borderline racist and blame this on DWA, because lots and lots of cars/people do it in Seattle. I wish I could go back in time and smack their Driver’s Ed teachers upside the head.
I suppose I should note two other things:
- We all do this by accident now and then (me, too), but I encounter someone doing it almost every day. That goes beyond random chance.
- This is nothing new. I remember trying to follow my father’s car once, probably after my sister’s college graduation in 1990, and having a bitch of time because he didn’t use his turn signals until he was in the middle of a turn.