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How Come Drivers Don’t Use Their Turn Signals Anymore?

September 28, 2010 3 comments

Why aren’t more people concerned with safety first?


Why is it that more and more, drivers don’t seem to think it’s important to signal their intent to turn or change lanes?  Here’s my take: drivers don’t use their turn signals anymore because they are on the phone, they have become lazy, and because they are just plain selfish and inconsiderate of other drivers.  That’s right, I said it, yes I did. 

According to national car insurer Response Insurance, 57 percent of drivers admit they don’t use their turn signals.  Of the drivers surveyed, here’s the breakdown:  

  • 42% of those drivers say they don’t have enough time
  • 23% admit they are just plain “lazy”
  • 17% don’t signal because when they do, they forget to turn it off
  • 12% admit they are changing lanes too frequently to bother
  • 11% say it is not important
  • 8% say they don’t signal because other drivers don’t
  • 7% say forgoing the signal “adds excitement to driving”

I am shocked and appalled!  Almost half of the people surveyed who don’t signal say they don’t have the time.  Don’t have the half a second to ensure a safe lane transition and/or turn??  Can you believe this??  My mouth dropped on the floor when I discovered these numbers. 

When did safety become so…unwanted…not important…optional?  I mean, really.  Has the driving public become that careless?  Apparently! 

I have to admit, after I became a more experienced younger driver, I started getting lax about using my turn signals — until I started understanding the potential impact of not doing so.  After I got into a small accident, I discovered that if I hadn’t used my signal, I could have been found at fault instantly.  

The fact that I did signal my intent to change lanes saved me from automatically being declared at fault.  Talk about a light bulb moment!  I decided from then on that, as a safety measure and just plain the right thing to do, I need to use my signals every time I need to change lanes or make a turn.  

Perhaps a public service announcement about the importance of doing this is in order?  Do you think educating people on the importance of doing this would spur a change in thinking, and thus, behavior?  Tell me what you think.

What Would It Take To Improve Your Commute?

December 3, 2012 Leave a comment

In October,’s Dr. Gridlock blog asked a very poignant question that I’ve been itching to answer for awhile now: Money or power what would it take to improve your commute?

Basically, the question is if there were no limits to how much money or power it would take to implement your ideas, what would you do?  I tried to reply on the comment board, but due to technical difficulties, couldn’t post there.  So, I decided to post my response here.  There are several ideas I would implement simultaneously because there is no “one size fits all” solution to this problem — it’s SO BIG! 

– Agree with Teacher26 on this: more strict driver education classes to teach new drivers etiquette as well as school them on the unwritten “rules of the road” (Slower Traffic KEEP RIGHT, Pass on the Left, Proper Merging Techniques, Turn Signals: They’re Not Just for Show, The Perils of Distracted Driving, How Not to Play the Part of the Idiot Driver, etc). 

– Execute a robust PSA campaign to educate already-licensed drivers who continue to practice bad driving habits and not obey the above unwritten “rules of the road”. 

– Extend all metro lines out to what is now considered the greater D.C. metro area and plan/build an additional system of metrorail lines that would allow for suburb-to-suburb commuting to/from dense urban greater D.C. metro areas. 

– Two-tier the entire length of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway/295 between cities and make both tiers three lanes each way. 

– Offer major mass transit routes to adequately connect the greater Washington D.C. and greater Baltimore metro areas together because they have both collided years ago. 

– Eliminate all HOV lanes wherever they exist as they are a waste of space. 

– Implement congestion pricing to control use of high-use roads/highways. 

– Expand high-speed rail so that we can commute to other cities up/down East Coast in two hours or less. 

– Build a tunnel from VA to MD along American Legion Bridge and add two-tier capacity to the bridge. 

– Build another tunnel connecting DC/MD for Metro’s blue line. 

– Build a 95 highway bypass so out-of-area traffic can stay off local highways.

– Incentivize more Fortune 500, 100, 50 employers to any part of P.G. County so that P.G.’s large white collar population no longer HAS to commute to Montgomery County and VA for a decent paycheck. 

– Provide more affordable family-size living options in VA and Montgomery County. 

– Implement more transit-oriented development all over using Metro as the basis.

– Mandate that employers provide more telework options whenever feasible so that there will be less need for commuting at all!  

These are just a few that I couldn’t wait to jot down.  If I gave it some more thought, I’m sure I could come up with many more — all of which are desperately needed, in my opinion, to combat what is now the worst traffic in the country

What ideas do you have?  What would it take to improve your commute?

If Drivers Have to Obey Traffic Signs, So Do Pedestrians!

Pedestrians Disobeying No Walk Sign

Something I’ve noticed lately is that many pedestrians don’t obey traffic signs.  I know you’re probably like, “wow, and drivers typically don’t obey them, either!”  But no, seriously, I didn’t really realize how bad pedestrians were with this until recently. 

As children, we were always taught in schools and by parents to obey traffic signals.  You were not to walk into the street without looking both ways first, and you were not to enter a crosswalk until the traffic sign permitted you to.  

But pedestrians these days seem to follow a different creed.  At the intersection of Rockville Pike and Marinelli Road(across from the White Flint Metro station), the pedestrians are irreverent and oblivious to the traffic signs.  Daily, I am prevented from making my right-hand turn onto Rockville Pike when it is my turn because pedestrians cross the road at inappropriate times.  

It almost begs the question: do pedestrians think that traffic signals only apply to drivers?  Do pedestrians feel that drivers should always give them the right of way, regardless of what the signal says?  

Rules of the Road by Dona Sauerburger, provides a simple explanation of the law that pedestrians (and drivers) need to follow in the D.C. metro area.  Basically, it says that pedestrians crossing an intersection on a crosswalk with traffic controls need to yield to drivers when the “don’t walk” or “upraised hand” sign is displayed.  

I don’t have a problem yielding to pedestrians when it’s their turn to cross the road.  But I’m just saying…when it’s my turn to go, can I get some reciprocity?  Fellow drivers/commuters: do you experience this while driving?  Please share your experiences!

Prejudiced Against SUVs?

October 6, 2010 1 comment


Courtesy of Steven Johnson

When it comes to driving, I can admit to being prejudiced against SUVs (and minivans, too, for that matter) merging in my lane ahead of me because I drive a compact car.  To others, this prejudice may seem like just a shallow opinion or preference.  But to me, this is a safety concern. 

My issue is that I can’t see around SUVs.  In a compact car, driving behind one is like driving with a wall in front of you.  Can you see through a wall?  No, not unless you’re Superman!  What makes this worse is that SUVs usually have tinted windows.      

Driving behind large vehicles creates a visual impairment that severely limits my ability to make quick decisions should something bad happen on the highway ahead in my lane.  For example, if there was a multiple car pileup ahead, I may not be able to see it in enough time to get out of harm’s way.  I also wouldn’t be able to avoid running over/into that large thingamajig in the road that would give my little car a flat tire.  And there have been many times when I had little to no notice to react because the SUV ahead of me suddenly changed lanes (without signaling) to avoid a turning car or stopped traffic in our lane.  

I am an alert driver who prides herself in knowing who is around me at all times.  That is how I was taught to drive.  So I am not comfortable driving on the road if I have a huge blind spot directly in front of me.  

My solution?  Ultimately, that people would stop buying at least the mammoth-sized SUVs and purchase regular-sized automobiles.  In the meantime, my modus operandi is to seek out a spot behind a vehicle I can see around and then change lanes.  Unfortunately for me, sometimes this means changing lanes often because — ever since the blizzard of 1996 — the roadways are evermore crawling with these menacing behemoths.  

P.S. – Another alternative would be to drive one of these nifty vehicles from the imagination of Steven Johnson — although I don’t foresee carmakers cranking out any of these for public use in the near future.  Oh well!

Merging Properly onto Our Highways: Is it a Lost Art?

September 22, 2010 1 comment

Does this driving behavior make you feel like this?

Today, as I was returning back to the office from my lunch break, I encountered a very common problem — a female driver who didn’t know how to properly merge onto the highway.  I got so angry at her apparent lack of driving skills, I didn’t know what to do!  

Here’s what she did — and this is soooo classic — instead of yielding to the driver getting off the highway (me), she decides to speed up, pass me on the right (on a short exit ramp!) and merge onto the highway ahead of me, despite the fact that I was going a little too fast for that, both of us are running out of exit ramp (!), and there was a large slowish moving vehicle in front of me.  What she should have done was to yield and then merge in behind me when it was safe to do so. 

This is really a problem that I’m noticing more and more.  And, quite frankly, it’s got me worried for my safety.  For some reason, many people do not seem to realize that: 

  • exiting vehicles have the right of way by law
  • entering vehicles are supposed to YIELD to exiting vehicles
  • entering vehicles are not to attempt to pass vehicles on the right as exiting vehicles are trying to complete their exit

Roileen Miller of Miller Driving School gave some useful merging pointers on the Road Warrior blog, including that drivers should use their signals and that entering vehicles should check their blindspots for exiting vehicles and merge accordingly.

Here is what I’ve noticed: when I wait an extra second before signaling my intent to exit, most drivers will assume I am continuing on the highway, yield, and just merge into traffic behind me.  However, if I signal before that, there is confusion because other drivers may not yield to me otherwise.  To mitigate this problem, I try to signal at a precise time that safely alerts others I am about to exit, just before I am about to pass the merging vehicle while they are still on the exit ramp.  

Okay, I know what you’re thinking.  She probably passed you like that because you drive like a grandma!  Au contraire!  Those who have ridden with me will tell you I most certainly do not drive like a grandma. 

Unfortunately, many drivers these days tend to do exactly what that lady did to me today — although most of them do not go to such great lengths as to actually attempt to pass me on the right before merging!      

What do you think about this behavior?  Do you drive just like that lady?  Or does this kind of unsafe, illegal driving tick you off, too?  Tell me, and please feel free to share this blog post/site with others!

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