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Flattened Like a Beer Can

Did you hear about the idiot who darted in front of a 4,000-pound SUV from another lane with no warning, causing the SUV and those behind it to slam on their brakes, creating a domino effect of braking during morning rush hour? Sure you did. It happens every day in city traffic.

Despite sophisticated communications abilities, drivers refuse to indicate their intentions to other drivers with the simple use of turn signals. Why, oh why, do they persist in driving like the zombies from Michael Jackson’s Thriller?

Each year, there are over 200,000 lane-changing and merging traffic accidents. In a 2006 study by Response Insurance, more than one-half of drivers didn’t use their lane change indicators, also known as turn signals or blinkers. Reasons given included the following:

  • 42 percent said they don’t have time.
  • 23 percent said they are too lazy.
  • 17 percent said they don’t because they forget to turn it off.
  • 12 percent said they change lanes to frequently to bother.
  • 11 percent said it’s not important.
  • 8 percent said they don’t because others don’t.
  • 7 percent said not doing it adds to excitement.

Excitement? Too lazy? Oh. My. God. You idiot! I would like to avoid flattening your subcompact like a Schlitz beer can with my 4-ton Hummer, but it’s really hard to do that when you cut in front of me with three feet of clearance at 65 mph. Unannounced.

In Texas, they say “Drive friendly, the Texas way.” Guess what, friends? It’s not friendly to attempt to force your way into my lane when your lane is about to end and you’ve ignored five warning signs while eating a burger, chatting on the phone to your buddy and neglecting to adjust your mirrors so you can see what is behind you. And driving a Prius does not give you road ownership rights beyond mine or that of any other automobile driver.

A friend suggested that drivers are afraid to use signals because other drivers will deliberately close the gap so they can’t enter the lane. Baloney! Happens, but rarely. If you’ve been driving “friendly,” most drivers will allow you to enter a lane if your signal tells them your intentions.

So, drive friendly. And try not to deselect yourself from the gene pool as a result of driving dangerously. Use your darn blinker.

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