Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Signal, Anyone?

I groused on FB the other day about people/motorists who don't use their turn signals anymore, and a friend from Hiram High School days reminded me that when we were in driver education class (summer 1960), the teacher--Bob Barnhart (who was also our beloved basketball coach and later went on to become a school superintendent)--taught us the hand signals you see at the top of the page. Lots of people still used them in 1960, even though cars all had electric blinkers, too. In fact, there was a question about whether we ought to use them during our driving test. I did. Though, as I recall, the officer riding around with me seemed more amused than impressed.

I still use the signals when I'm biking (if I'm on a roadway--and if there is traffic). But I don't think I've seen a driver of a car use them in decades. Few people, in fact, even have their windows open nowadays: Everyone has A/C. Why open a window and let bugs or birds inside? (I remember reading, years ago, about fatal crashes caused by curious (or unlucky) starlings or sparrows or condors flying into open car windows.)

Yes, we now all have blinkers to indicate lane changes and turns. But lately I've noticed that fewer and fewer people are using them at all. Last evening (Thurs.) Joyce and I were driving to Chapel Hill Mall to get a new battery for her watch (remember when you had to wind a watch? I didn't think so), and I was noticing how few people used the blinker for lane changes or exits from the Rt 8 freeway. Amazing.

My dad, I remember, was a post-facto turn-signaler. He would turn it on after he'd made his move. I always thought that was kind of weird--as if Dad were giving those behind a message: Here's what I've just done.

I am a fastidious signaler. Every lane change, every turn--even if there is no other car in the county at the time. Habit.

I don't know why people are so careless about it now ... too busy texting? Eating? Changing a CD? Fussing with GPS? Drinking? Skipping ahead on an iPod? Punching a passenger? Using Bluetooth (or hand-held) phone to explain whey they're going to be late? Chiding children. Playing with the dog? Who knows?

All I know is this: It's more dangerous than ever on the road. And I think about the line that used to end the opening sequence of Hill Street Blues every week: Sgt. Phil Esterhaus (the late Michael Conrad) would always say to the assembled cops--Let's be careful out there!

Good advice.

PS -- Here's a YouTube clip of Conrad saying it ... Let's be careful out there.

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