Fuel for Thought

Mind Reading

By Greg Huggins
Posted Jul 9th 2024 3:53AM

Driving can certainly have its challenges some days more than others. As the years and miles roll by, you start to recognize patterns or behaviors from other drivers that can indicate to you that a particular vehicle is about to do something that even the driver may not be aware they are about to do. I have never claimed to be a mind reader, nor would I want to have that ability, but you do pick up signals from the actions of others, if you pay attention to them. If only there was some way for drivers to be able to indicate their intentions to perform a certain maneuver. There must be a solution to the erratic actions of many drivers out there to be able to warn others of their upcoming directional adjustments. If there were only a simple way to signal the other motorists of one’s intentions. Many years ago, someone invented just such devices.

I have become pretty good over the years about driving defensively (there are more than enough offensive drivers out there, I did not want to be a part of that particular crowd).  Like many other professional drivers, I have become accustomed to expect practically anything on the road and I try to watch for the warning signs other drivers unknowingly send out to those of us paying attention.

Whether you call them blinkers, turn signals or turn indicators, this feature comes standard on ALL cars and trucks. The turn signals are not optional equipment anymore than safety belts (seat belts) are optional, and for good reason. With just the tiniest of movement from just one or two fingers you have the power to inform others of your intentions to change direction, change lanes or pull over to the side of the road. It really isn’t that difficult and many of the ones who do actually use a turn signal, can only muster up the strength to hold it for a single flash or maybe on rare occasions two flashes for a lane change. They usually release the lever before even entering the other lane, but hey, at least there was an effort, albeit an infinitesimal one, at best. 

While we are discussing turn signals, can the rest of you out there that do actually use the turn signal to make a right or left turn please try to turn it on BEFORE you begin braking to make said turn. When you indicate to those around you your intentions BEFORE you slow to make the turn, it also gives others additional time to prepare for your departure from the road as we will know that you will be slowing down to make the turn and can prepare to stop as well.

Now for the truck drivers only. I would say more truck drivers use turn signals than car drivers. Perhaps I am biased, or I just would like to think professional truck drivers would operate in a more professional, safe manner, however truck drivers have another feature not found on passenger cars, the Jake Brake (Jacobs Compression Brake or engine retarder). In case some of you are unaware, when using the Jake brake, the engine slows the vehicle. What does not happen when using the Jake brake is the lack of illumination from the brake lights. It only takes a light touch of the brake pedal to engage the brake light light switch. This is less pressure applied to the pedal than it takes to actually apply the brakes. If you are finding that vehicles behind you are closing the gap when you use only the Jake brake, perhaps you could also provide some indication to those drivers behind you that you will be slowing down.

I do not drive with a working crystal ball and I’m fairly certain none of you do either, so rather than have everyone on the road rely on their superpower of clairvoyance, please consider other drivers and use your turn signals properly to make our roads safer and easier for all the drivers to plan for your directional changes.

Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac? 

 -  George Carlin

See you down the road,