The Best Bumper Sticker We’ve Seen in a While
It's what we preach
That blinky thing you see is a turn signal. Yes, that’s what was printed on the sticker. Catchy, for sure! Our primary goal is to teach safe driving skills to our students, to help make them safer, smarter drivers.
One of the first things taught to new drivers, beginning in the Driver’s Education course, is the importance of using turn signals, whenever turning or changing lanes. In Virginia, turn signal use is also mandated by law, and failing to use them can result in a ticket. The state also lists turn signal functionality, along with the bulb condition, part of the annual safety inspection.
Does it really matter?
The purpose of turn signals (whether amber in color or red), is to alert other drivers of your intention to turn. Combined with brake lights as you slow, other motorists take, hopefully, these visual cues and begin to slow or change lanes. However, when you dive into the crash data, more than 1.7 million rear-end collisions occur each year in the U.S. With the ever increasing amount of distractions today’s drivers face, these numbers will only continue to increase. Maintaining a safe following distance and looking for signs of the car in front’s intention to change lanes is one of the very first lessons taught in our behind the wheel and private lesson sessions.
Using signals every time you intend to turn should be a habit all drivers have. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. We often find that our behind the wheel students miss this step several times during practice, and failing to signal a lane change or turn is often an area for point deduction during their final road test before they earn their driver’s license.
On top of that, one of our recent attendees in a driver improvement class was ordered to attend because they were summonsed for failing to signal their turn, while evading a traffic control device (yes, that’s an actual charge!). Apparently while they were cutting through a gas station parking lot to avoid a red light, they never used their turn signals. Talk about piling it on.
Can tech help?
The good news, however, is that automakers are taking steps with vehicle technology to help mitigate the risks of rear-end collisions, with audible and visual warnings to the driver of close proximity to another car or pedestrian.
Additionally, many manufacturers now offer lane departure warning features as an option. These systems help alert drivers if their vehicle begins deviating from its given lane when a turn signal (or that blinky thing) isn’t in use.
Then there’s the feature we’ve seen in several makes where the dashboard display alerts you if your turn signal has been on for an extended period while the car is in motion. We have to admit, this is awesome! Doesn’t everyone love driving down the road for several miles behind a car with its turn signal flashing? Perhaps they forgot it was on, it didn’t notice the arrow blinking on their dash or that clicking sound going off. Makes you wonder how alert they are or if other distractions are present.
As time goes on and more and more vehicle safety improvements are introduced, it’ll be exciting to see if crash numbers decline. Many of these enhanced safety features, however, aren’t yet standard equipment, and instead are offered as add-ons or part of additional option packages.
Despite the tech improvements, however, it starts with the driver. If one fails to signal a turn or lane change, they’re potentially putting themselves and others at an unnecessary risk. Keep that in mind next time you fail to use your signal, or good luck explaining your reasons why you didn’t flip the lever to that police officer on the side of the road.