Think before you blink to stay safe on the road
by Charlie Sewell
July 06, 2014 12:45 AM | 1973 views | 1 1 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Retired Powder Springs Police Chief Charlie Sewell
Retired Powder Springs Police Chief Charlie Sewell
There is a little known lever on the left side of a car’s steering column that will trigger amber lights to blink on the front and rear of the car. Pull the handle down and the left lights blink. Push it up and the right lights blink.

Count the number of times drivers fail to activate those blinking lights and one might think most cars are manufactured without turn signals.

Is it absolutely necessary to use a turn signal in a dedicated turn lane? The “turn only” sign on the side of the road and the large white arrow painted on the pavement is a clear enough indication to anyone a driver must turn.

If all drivers obeyed lane markings, a turn signal might be unnecessary.

Does it matter about two million traffic accidents are caused each year by drivers who fail to use turn signals? Accidents only happen to “other people,” so why bother?

Georgia law requires a turn signal, even in a dedicated turn lane, but trusting a turn signal or assuming a driver’s intent is like trusting you will not get hit driving an amusement park bumper car.

Many drivers unintentionally signal their plans by “doing the drift” for several seconds toward the lane they are about to enter. If these drivers use their blinkers at all, it is a millisecond before — but usually right after — their front bumper merges into the next lane. And then, their turn signal might only blink once.

“Think before you blink.” It is not only required by law, it is a polite gesture and prudent decision to give a continuous turn signal for an “adequate distance” to notify other drivers before changing lanes.

To do this, however, a driver would have to think in advance, and that often does not happen.

Forty-two percent of drivers say they don’t have enough time to use a turn signal. Others say they are afraid they will forget to turn the signal off.

Many confess they change lanes too often to bother, and numerous other say it is not important. Some drivers say they don’t signal because other drivers don’t signal. NOTE: Using a turn signal is not painful.

In reckless abandon, seven percent of drivers say they skip the signal because it makes driving more exciting. There is no vaccine for stupid, and these self-centered drivers create a guessing game for everyone.

Some drivers are just lazy; others don’t think, and most don’t realize it can be extremely dangerous not to signal. Whatever the reason, failing to use a turn signal occurs about 750 billion times annually.

No, is it not absolutely necessary to use a turn signal when driving. It is also not absolutely necessary to use a parachute when sky diving. Turn signals and parachutes are safety features, and used properly can make the outcome of the journey much more predictable.

Using a turn signal is not a big deal unless mortality is a big deal. Properly using a turn signal before turning or changing lanes is less about the law than it is about a sensible decision to be safe and to survive. Isn’t your next turn worth a second thought?

Charlie Sewell is the Powder Springs chief of police. His column runs monthly in the Marietta Daily Journal.
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Sherry Gary
July 16, 2014
Love to read Charkie Sewell's columns: lots of common sense and humor!

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