A study conducted by the Society of Automotive Engineers a few years ago indicated that drivers who failed to properly use turn signals caused 2 million accidents. I fear that I will soon join these statistical ranks, because Atlanta has become the land that turn signals forgot.
Last month, it was a Wednesday I believe, I was driving back to the Old Fourth Ward from Decatur along DeKalb Avenue, which is problematic enough with its lack of turn lanes, potholes and the reversible lane that no one seems to know how to navigate. On three separate occasions, the car immediately in front of me came to a stop – or an almost stop – before making a wild turn into a driveway or parking lot. Nary a turn signal in sight.
A few days later, I was attempting to make a left on DeKalb Avenue at Krog Street. A car came barreling out of the dark tunnel from the Cabbagetown side and slowed down in the intersection before snatching their wheel to the left and zooming off toward Downtown. You guessed it, no turn signal.
I’ve actually lost count of the near misses I’ve had around the city because someone doesn’t know how to, or just doesn’t care, about using their turn signal. On Atlanta’s freeways, just forget about it. Leave plenty of room, because some yahoo is going to drift or cut into your lane without even thinking of using a signal.
I tried to come up with some reasons why Atlanta motorists have abandoned the use of their indicators, and I’ve narrowed it down to distracted driving, laziness, road rage and a complete breakdown in common courtesy.
With the use of WAZE and other GPS systems, people are too busy listening to directions to actually signal. Or maybe they’re too busy texting or have their music cranked up so loud that not only is their car vibrating, but so is yours.
There’s also a fair amount of privilege involved, where people behind the wheel of their cars think they are the most important people on the road. How many times has someone aggressively cut in front of you on the Downtown Connector and almost caused an accident, but then they have the temerity to flip you off?
Maybe because of social media and lack of interpersonal skills, many people have just lost – or have no notion of – courtesy. Treating other people fairly in real life situations seems to have become a lost art, especially in these days of internet trolling and anonymity.
Here’s one idea that I’ve broached with friends and they’ve all looked at me like I’m a monster: regular driver retesting. Every five years, you have to retake the driving test in a real world situation – like DeKalb Ave at 5:30 p.m. or the Downtown Connector at 8:30 a.m.
Or maybe it’s time for cars to get even smarter. They can already break and park themselves, so how about plugging a vehicle’s steering into the GPS so that it automatically flips the indicator for you?
That will surely be peak laziness.