Greg’s Driving Tips- Turn Signals: Not Just for Expert Drivers
by Greg West
Welcome to Greg’s automobile driving tips. Today we are going to discuss "turn signals". I know, I know, many of you are already feeling overwhelmed and thinking, "Turn signals?!? I’ve just recently learned how to use just one foot for both the brake and the accelerator- and now I have to learn how to use turn signals?!? What do you think I am, some kind of driving genius?!?
Yes, I know that this is what some of you are thinking, but, believe it or not, turn signal usage is just not for the expert or experienced driver. Studies have shown that even some of the most inexperienced and amateur drivers have been able to master this confusing device. Studies also show that even some of the higher primates, along with dogs, cats, ferrets, and even certain species of shellfish, have mastered this intimidating device with very little instruction.
Probably the most difficult part of learning to master the art of turn signaling, is learning not to take your eyes off of the road when implementing the turn signal. The best way to overcome this is to study where your turn signal on and off switch is (which from here on out will be referred to as the "turn signaling device"). For most cars bought in the US, the turn signaling device is located on the left hand side of the steering column. If you don’t know what one looks like it sort of resembles the handle of an electric tooth brush minus the brush part. If you don’t know what an electric tooth brush looks like, you’ll just have to have some one else describe it to you or show you one as teeth brushing tips are outside the parameters of this article.
Now, once you have located your turn signaling device, try to become as familiar with its location as possible. Practice putting your left hand (for those of you who don’t know which hand that is, it is the opposite hand of the one that you put over your heart when you say the Pledge of Allegiance or salute with; the hand closest to the driver’s side window, which is the window in closest proximity to you if you are sitting in the driver’s seat [if the steering wheel is directly in front of you, you are in the driver’s seat]) on it first while looking at it, and then, once you have mastered this, practice putting your left hand on it while facing straight ahead (note: you might want to practice this sitting in your driveway first before trying it while actually driving; just make sure the car is in "park" [designated by a big "P"] so you don’t go crashing through the garage door).
Once you have this step mastered you are ready to move on to the actual implementing of the signal. DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED! Remember, you should already be able to locate the device while keeping your eyes on the road- er, uh garage door, or the back wall of your garage if that’s where you happen to be parked (BTW, you might want to print out a hard copy of this or download it to a portable device so you’ll have it to refer to while practicing).
Now let’s imagine that you wish to make a left turn. We’ll start with a left turn because you should already know where your left is. If you have forgotten already, please go back two paragraphs and review until you remember. Then, imagine that you are approaching an intersection where you wish to execute a left turn. Approximately 100 feet before you make the afore mentioned turn is when you should implement your turn signaling device (the electric toothbrush thingy, remember?). To implement a left turn signal, keeping your right hand (the one you use when saying the pledge or saluting) on the steering wheel, place your left hand on the turn signaling device and gently push DOWNWARD (i.e. toward the surface of the planet on which you happen to be driving) until you hear and feel a firm "click". At this time, your turn signal should be activated. To double check if you have correctly activated your left turn signal, turn on your key in the ignition on as far as it will go without starting the car, make sure the car is in "park" (remember the "P"?), exit your vehicle and proceed to the front of it.
This is where things can get a little tricky, but please bare with me. Proceed to the front of the vehicle and face the cab (that’s the part you were just sitting in). To your lower right (your saluting hand), on the front side of the grill, there should be a light flashing continuously about once every second or so (note: flashing speeds may vary with different vehicles). If you see the flashing light, you have correctly implemented the left turn signal. If you do not see a flashing light, first check to make sure the bulb is not burned out, which if it is not, go back to the top of the page and review some more as you just haven’t got the hang of it yet and need to practice some more.
Ok, so once you have made sure that you have a flashing light to your lower right, proceed to the back of the car and once again, face the cab. If you can see the garage door or the back wall of your garage over the top of your car you are in the correct position. Now this time there should be a flashing light to your lower LEFT. I know this can be confusing, since it was the lower "right" in the front, but remember, you ARE facing the OPPOSITE direction, even though you are still facing the cab.
Again, if you see a flashing light similar to the one in front (note: light may be a different color, but that’s okay, it is supposed to be) then once again you have correctly activated the left turn signal. Congratulations!
Before we move on to implementing a right turn signal, let’s go over a few of the reasons you should learn such an advanced driving technique.
1.) It is courteous and friendly driving.
2.) It lets other drivers be aware of your intentions which helps prevent undesired collisions with other vehicles.
3.) Other drivers will be envious and jealous that you are such a better driver than they are.
It is now time to move on to implementing the right turn signal, but I am just too exhausted to go on right now. We’ll save that for another lesson, BUT before I close, just a few words of advice for safety concerns: First, make sure you have mastered the technique before trying it while actually driving. You need to be able to perform all the necessary steps WITHOUT having to refer back to the instructions. Not heeding this advice could lead to undesired consequences. Second, these instructions do not apply in Great Britain and possibly several other countries. In fact, if you’re going to be driving in some of these other countries, you first have to go to a special school and get a special license (unless you’re dyslexic, then you might be okay, but not in this country).
Thank you for tuning in to this edition of Greg’s Driving Tips. Safe & Happy Driving, Everyone!
P.S. If you are running from the cops, ignore all of the above.