Michael Wharton There Is Always A Theory: politics, anarchy, religion, atheism and science. now with poetry!


Mirror, SIGNAL, manoeuvre: Cause

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Why Don't Some Drivers Indicate Correctly?

I am a humble pedestrian, occasional cyclist but never a driver, so maybe it will be hard for me to understand the effort involved in remembering to indicate. I know some of the Highway Code, I was thinking about taking my test some day, but the way some people drive just makes me think too much about dying at the hands of a moron. I personally find this off-putting.

Of all of the initial lessons one learns when mastering the art of driving, mirror, signal, manoeuvre is a mantra too quickly forgotten on the roads. Those flashing yellow lights are for warning all other road users of your intentions, those you are aware of and those you haven't seen. On many occasions, this negligence has lead to me being stood directly in front of a car making a turn towards me, while I was crossing the road, on one occasion it didn't quite stop in time and gave me a bump. What was really galling was the fact that these drivers seemed so indignant and defensive of the idea that it was their fault for not signalling.

Maybe it's a generational thing, in my experience younger drivers tend to be more guilty of failing to signal. Older drivers tend to indicate every time; my Dad for example indicates round car parks because it has become so second nature to him. This leads me to believe that it may have something to do with falling out of the habit due to some form of encumbrance, such as not being able to indicate for some reason. I noticed that upon looking into the window of the cars that don't indicate, about a 30% were ON THE PHONE, 40% were sticking their left gear changing hand somewhere else (up their nose, on the gear lever, on their face, drinking HOT coffee, TEXTING!). At least another 20% were resting their right arm out the window, the other ten were miscellaneous in case you were wondering.

What Can Pedestrians Do About It?

I have personally confronted drivers about their failure to indicate or being on the phone, sometimes a simple dirty look is enough to evoke a look of shame and apology. Sometimes they get out of their car and harass you verbally for telling them how to drive, but the advantage of being a pedestrian is that I can walk away, they are making a journey of some kind and usually want to get along, in their car. Maybe if it was the norm for people to be openly critical of other's stupidity things would be better. As for now I am the one with a chip on my shoulder from being bumped over by a car driver in this situation.

Now I am finally blogging about it, maybe I can convince people of why it's important to signal at all times to get into the good habit. Mirror, SIGNAL, manoeuvre is not just for when you see other cars around, but all the time, for the people you don't see (like in your blind spot) too.

I started a Facebook Group about this after I nearly got hit again, and shouted at the middleaged lady driver only to get the finger for my wisdom. Please join it and invite your friends, it's open to all and only takes a minute!

In summation this current trend in bad driving could be due to many of the other bad driving factors I have seen, or it could be a phenomenon of its own. This does not matter, what really matters is that it stops being so prolific. We need to scold drivers with a simple phrase that will put them right back in the learners seat; Mirror, SIGNAL, Manoeuvre!

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  1. Just to add to all of those who are scratching their heads over the Left hand Right hand part, I live in the UK where we drive on the left side of roads and the driver sits on the right of the vehicle.

  2. Great blog post. Hilarious and I know exactly what you mean. You’ll be pleased to know that I’m one of the *rare* drivers who actually indicates every single turn and manoeuvre I do. And I’m only 25!

    But it drives me equally crazy and I’ve been planning on making a sign (one side written backwards, one forwards) that I can hold up everytime I see someone not indicating.

    Anyway, just thought I’d register my agreement with you. I’m not on the Facebook cos’ it’s evil but consider me on your side with this one.

  3. Thanks for your supportive comment, I’m glad you are a safe driver who uses his indicators! I would have to note that it may be a little distracting to you if you did employ your radical sign idea! I might suggest a permanent sign affixed in your car that is clearly visible!

  4. Hey mike, as you know i am a driver, and when on occaision you may have seen me drive you can see i indicate as is required, i.e. every time you make a manouvre! Yes i admit, occaisionally my hand will wander to pick my nose/ scratch my arse/balls (lol), skip track on CD or stroke a ladyfriend’s thigh… but i always drop what i’m doing to indicate! There is NO EXCUSE! oh i also NEVER use my phone unless pulled over.
    I was a Very regular cyclist and pedestrian before i became a lazy bastard and drove so i understand your pain with these (Frankly) inconsiderate arses!

  5. You should see how people drive in Israel. It is absolutely horrible. Let me give you an example. Let’s say driver wants to change a lane to bypass a car. He will never signall because he knows that if he signals then the car driving behind him on his desired lane will speed up in order not to let him change lane. So he has to change lanes suddenly. And I am not joking here.
    I absolutely agree with you on everything you wrote except one thing. This is not a reason not get a licence!

  6. It’s just off putting to read all the statistics of how many people get killed regularly because of other bad drivers. If I did drive a car it would have to be like crammed with gizmos that save my life!

  7. It’s not an age thing… my dad never indicates!
    My theory is that most people who don’t indicate are originally from areas where they generally didn’t have to.
    Christchurch is a good example of this: The majority of Christchurch residents grew up in rural areas or small towns and then moved to the city where they didn’t change their habits.
    Not only do people not indicate, they don’t even look sometimes – I am both pedestrian and driver and am amazed at the amount of people who nearly hit me on pedestrian crossings because they’re not paying attention, and the amount of drivers who move into my lane – almost on top of me!
    Yes I’m petite, yes I drive a small car… but I’m still here!
    It’s the thing that frustrates me the most, however it’s part of the whole “not paying attention”/”I own the road” thing (the latter being more common with older drivers).
    Both my mum and sister have been hit by cars at separate times… and BOTH were on pedestrian crossings.
    I think we just need to be taught better in the first place.

  8. I definitely agree with the theory of rural driver’s having bad driving habits in general! I have lived in rural environments at several points of my life and have witnessed the phenomenon of drivers being unaware that there could possibly be OTHER road users!?!

  9. UPDATE: I had a run in, well near miss with another bad driver today, he wasn’t indicating my way so I crossed the road. He sneered at me for holding him up for all of five seconds so I shouted at him for not indicating in the first place. He gave me two fingers for my efforts to school the fool! Posh tool in his BMW…

  10. Drives me mad!

    I live in a tiny rural village in the UK. Girl comes flying out of the riding stables (lessons paid for, no doubt, by mummy and daddy) in her Ford (bought by mummy and daddy), pink mobile phone (bill paid for by mummy and daddy) glued to her ear and no signalling. Looks right at the junction but doesn’t see me walking from the left. I stand waiting for the “acknowledgement” gesture from her, but..nothing. Just grins at me inanely (orthodontics courtesy mummy and daddy) and drives off.

    I wish I was assertive enough to tap ferociously on the window and tell her she nearly ran me over and that driving with a mobile phone is illegal. Ruined my morning, not so much by what she did wrong, but by her total lack of remorse.

    Ironically, horse riders would be the first to snarl at inconsiderate driving.

  11. I have been cycling a lot more recently and drivers turning left seem to not think indicating is necessary at all! This is the most dangerous trick for cyclists coming up behind these drivers at a crossroads, where they are essentially indicating that they are going straight on. A cyclist slips down the left hand side of the driver, if the cyclist is going straight on also, and the driver will turn and knock over the cyclist. I know because this happens to me at least once a week, without any serious consequences as I am always apprehensive of crossroads. Only by anticipating that every driver I encounter is a complete simpleton, do I survive each cycle journey.

    It doesn’t seem to matter how loudly I shout at them “Drive like you PASSED some kind of test!”, or obscenely gesture my disproval. They will only learn when they kill someone, and maybe not even then.

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