Turning Without Direction
February 8, 2011 8:57 PM   Subscribe

Help me convince my husband that using a turning signal while drive is a good thing.

I've read to him nearly every word at http://ask.metafilter.com/154431/to-blink-or-not-to-blink-that-is-the-question to no avail. He clings to some mysterious and (it appears to me) masculine sensibility I find incomprehensible and that he won't explain. No amount of screaming or cajoling have any influence here, so his resistance runs very deep. The best I've achieved after nearly thirty years is a grudging blink or two when he's actually crossing into the next lane. You're not our shrink, but have you seen anything like this closely enough to understand it?
posted by Mertonian to Society & Culture (84 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
(I asked my husband your question and he said, "What the f is wrong with that dickhead?")

I don't understand it, but I'd have to say it's a combo of incredibly egotistical arrogance and pure stupidity. He thinks he's the most important person on the road and that everyone else is less important. Hopefully this is the only area of his life in which he behaves this way.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:09 PM on February 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


It's basic consideration for other drivers. You are not considering other drivers' safety, time, or convenience when you fail to use turn signals.

I live near a busy intersection that has no traffic light. The usual path I take means that if someone on the other side of the intersection is going straight, then I have to wait to make my usual left turn. If they're turning left, I can go ahead and make my left. Countless times I have sat there waiting for the person to go straight (BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT USING THEIR TURN SIGNAL) and yet they turn left. So rude.
posted by jayder at 9:09 PM on February 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


I used to be a situational turn signal user. When I thought it would help, I would use it. Or if I remembered. I have now made it a New Year's resolution (last year) to use my turn signal everytime I turn or change lanes. I am now at about a 95% compliance rate. I do still have to think about it.

Why did I make the change? Simple. A friend was killed in a car accident that the police report blamed on the other driver that included a citation for failure to use the turn signal. Thinking about that accident over and over at the funeral with his wife bawling away and his two small children crying but not even knowing why I came to the conclusion that the risk reward of not using a signal coupled with the absolute minimal effort needed to actually use one was so overwhelmingly on the side of using one that I vowed to use one. Beside it is the law, it comes down to the simple question, why not? No risk, all reward.

Or, think of it this way, people are frigging morons and bad drivers, why not give them all the help you can to not fuck up with you the victim if they do.

As for why he does it, I don't know, but I rarely signaled myself until the above. I don't think it is a male issue as much as a lazy issue coupled with the thought process that he is in control and does not need to signal or "ask permission" to change lanes, he is "the man" and will change lanes or make turns whenever he pleases and everyone else should accept that. WHat kind of car does your husband drive? I would bet it is an SUV or large vehicle. Because if it is a small one, maybe the thought process is a self destruction one.
posted by AugustWest at 9:10 PM on February 8, 2011 [31 favorites]


I am a bicyclist. Cars do not always see me. I have been cut off by drivers like him. When this happens, I always wish I could tell them how close they were to killing me. Thank you for passing my message along: He could kill me.
posted by lover at 9:11 PM on February 8, 2011 [34 favorites]


I can't speak for everyone, but in Chicago, male or female driver, it doesn't really matter, it's better just to watch the green light at the intersection and the car ahead putting on its brakes than it is to hope for a turn signal.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 9:12 PM on February 8, 2011


Basic ROC, for some science. Even if he thinks the signal is redundant, even if it is redundant, some people won't get it unless it is redundant.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:15 PM on February 8, 2011


Is he a math guy? Does he get that force=mass*acceleration? Your average sedan weighs about 900 pounds. Even at a slow speed, that will cause a pretty big jolt.
It never ceases to amaze me how many bad drivers think they can just genie their way out of a bad situation. Even worse, they seem to think that they are good drivers.
Can you perhaps just take one for the team and simply beg? "Honey, I just get really nervous about it, and if you could just do me that one favor?" It's worth a shot, especially if it prevents what could be a bad accident.
posted by Gilbert at 9:21 PM on February 8, 2011


I think AugustWest has it. Just plain arrogance and total lack of consideration for others. It seems to be epidemic these days.
posted by JayRwv at 9:23 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


You might try invoking your physical comfort. The sound of the blinker signals passengers that a shift is about to occur and, moreover, that it's intentional. They need not wonder whether the driver is ambling into the next lane or dangerously drifting. Upon hear the blinker, passengers prepare their bodies for the turn, subtly bracing themselves (and their beverages). Given an opportunity to become situationally aware, they can also be useful as a second set of eyes and ears... or stop talking/distracting the driver when they notice that extra concentration might be required. Without the blinker, lane shifts and even turns come as a complete surprise.

Another benefit of signalling concerns contributing to the efficiency of traffic flow. Without information about whether a nearby car will turn, drivers are often forced to wait longer than necessary just to see what the car will do. Traffic modeling shows that the cumulative effect of small delays like these contributes mightily to congestion.
posted by carmicha at 9:27 PM on February 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


No help here but my husband is the same way. Specifically in parking lots where signaling is helpful to other drivers he just won't. He does loose his temper when other drivers don't signal which I find ironic. I might address some of the above points with him.
posted by saradarlin at 9:28 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


How is it not a subconscious automatic instinct? Who taught him to drive?!? I indicate when the road is deserted at 5am and there is no car in sight. Hell, even when I'm driving on a dirt road on someone's farm I indicate automatically. When I laugh about cows not really caring if I show which way I'm turning, I have to consciously stop myself from indicating, but it's an effort.

And I've been on the back of a motorbike often enough to know that drivers who don't indicate tend to be the most dangerous sort of drivers, they get into their steel/plastic bubble with 4 wheels and henceforth don't give a stuff about anyone outside of the bubble.

I've also been a truck drivers daughter long enough to know that if a (car) driver doesn't indicate and suddenly changes lanes because he's decided he has to turn at the next corner, he can't blame the truck which hits him from behind because it's impossible to brake a fully-laden truck at the same rate as a car.

Please show him this thread.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 9:31 PM on February 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


Does he use the brakes at intersections? Using a turn signal is just as legally required, and can be just as necessary for safety. If he's going to arbitrarily pick which rules to follow, why not just drive on the sidewalk?
posted by mikeh at 9:32 PM on February 8, 2011


I use my turn signal because other people are lazy, distracted, irresponsible maniacs and they have thousands of pounds of plastic and steel at their disposal, twenty feet from the most expensive thing I own.
posted by SMPA at 9:38 PM on February 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


I am a motorcyclist. I am a motorcyclist in California. I am a motorcyclist in California who often laneshares. I am a motorcyclist in California who often laneshares through areas where cars change lanes frequently.

I am utterly paranoid as a rule, but people who do not use signals make me more so. If I see someone using a signal, it's an important piece of data that I can use in my mental calculations for reducing my risk of injury or death. It also helps me to be a more friendly road user insofar as I can change my pace, location, or direction in order to give the lane-changer as wide a berth as possible, often allowing them to grab that gap in traffic that I may block them from. Not having my motorcycle inches away from someone's passenger window reduces both our stress levels, as well.

I won't even get into left-turn incidents, which comprise (iirc) 75% of motorcycle-car collisions.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 9:42 PM on February 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Because cars aren't the only vehicles on the road.

I ride a scooter, and every near miss I've had has involved someone not signaling a turn. I calculate and watch for people not signaling and always try to give myself plenty of space, but I've still had to make some pretty dramatic swerves in order to avoid an accident. Bear in mind that an accident that would be a mere fender-bender in a car could greivously injure or kill someone on a motorcycle.

Short answer; people who don't use turn signals scare the living shit out of me because I don't want to die.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:46 PM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Driving with a modicum of common sense and responsibility, at least a minimal awareness that his vehicle is a massive powered blunt object capable of killing me, is likely to largely reduce the probability that I, and adrenaline wracked nearly dead cyclists such as myself, will bludgeon him to death in a parking lot with his own tire iron for the protection of the greater good.

Make no mistake about it - failing to signal or otherwise blindly and blatantly flaunt the law is evidence of such an appalling disconnect between responsibility and liability that is constitutes, at the very least, none other than an egregious act of wanton negligence and at the worst assault with a deadly weapon.

At some point he will meet with another traveler who having been left threatened and just capable enough to defend themselves will seek to do so with alacrity.

Don't fuck around with large powered weapons of very personal destruction. You wouldn't wave a chainsaw around blindly like a fucktard and it doesn't travel 100km/hr.
posted by mce at 9:47 PM on February 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


As a bicyclist, the most dangerous thing on the road, the traffic incident that is most likely to kill me, is an automobile making a turn (specifically a right turn into me / in front of me). By not using a turn signal, your husband is showing a total lack of respect for my survival.
posted by idiopath at 9:51 PM on February 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, does he actually verbally refuse to signal or does he say that he will and forget?
posted by XMLicious at 9:55 PM on February 8, 2011


You can refuse to be in the car with him if you feel he's driving unsafely. That might be a stronger influence than any actual argument about the merits of signaling.
posted by ODiV at 10:01 PM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


When pressed he has very situational "reasons." Today he was waiting for the guy on the right to get past him while he drove a quarter mile in a left turn lane. I've said, "but that guy doesn't know that you want to fall-in behind him because you're not signaling!" When I made him listen to the other thread he said only, "I'm working on it." His driving is otherwise excellent, and he's not egotistical. My sense is that it's more like he feels that signaling is not cool somehow, not manly. Maybe he doesn't know how to do it, as a gap in his education. This will help, I'm sure.
posted by Mertonian at 10:05 PM on February 8, 2011


Is he from Boston/New England? Driving is a competitive sport around here, and not signalling is one tool in your arsenal. The attitude is that if you signal you're giving the other guy enough warning to close up the gap and NOT let you in, especially in a simple lane change. And almost everyone from here does it.

If he IS from New England, encourage him to resist his upbringing! Good luck.
posted by clone boulevard at 10:22 PM on February 8, 2011


Masculine sensibility?

As one motor enthusiast to another (via you) ensure your husband knows that us other guys think he needs to learn how to fucking drive a car! Not signalling is far more shameful than not knowing how to drive a manual.

It's unmanly to not drive properly. Driving properly means not just using the indicators, it means having their use so refined, ingrained and reflexive that it happens without thought, it happens regardless of whether (you are aware of) others nearby - it is not the driver's place or right to decide when signalling is necessary, in the same way and for the same reason that a man should treat all guns as loaded.

Not using signals makes him just another one of those idiot below-average drivers whose air-headed incompetence is a menace to those of us who put time and money and love into our cars and driving. Sorry if that's harsh about the guy you love, but unlike most morons, at least he has the power to fix his problem, and to overnight cease to be counted among their number.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:22 PM on February 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


If you turn on your indicator, I know you want to change lanes and I will either slow down and let you in, or speed up to get out of your way and let you in. Don't make me read your mind.
I have a friend who does the mind read thing. She'll slow down and speed up and look over at the car beside her, no indicator, griping:
"This asshole won't let me in!"
"Turn on your blinker"
"He knows I want in"
"I wouldn't let you in either, turn on your blinker"
"He can see I want in"
"Turn On Your Blinker!"
It's like saying (blink blink) "excuse me" instead of "hey, surprise, I'm in your lane!" (blink blink)
posted by BoscosMom at 10:24 PM on February 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'll pop in and also say that your husband should always signal if HE wants to avoid becoming the victim. I don't know how often he drives on freeways, but people who don't use their turn signals when changing lanes not only piss me off, they STRESS ME OUT.

I deal with California rush hour traffic every day, so I will admit that I've become a pretty aggressive driver. I never text or take calls or do anything to distract from driving, but I am still often taken by surprise when a car cuts in front of me. If those cars didn't signal, there's a good chance would smash into them. If a car's signal light isn't flashing, then I feel I have the very reasonable expectation that they will not try to push their way into my lane...so I don't reduce my speed.

Also, if your sense that your husband "feels that signaling is uncool" is correct, then you should let him know that not signaling is even more uncool. Those jerks who weave in and out of traffic without signaling probably feel so smooth, like they're pro-drivers or something--truth is everyone thinks they are assholes.
posted by sprezzy at 10:43 PM on February 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Rather than using pure logic, appeal to his ego.

Does he wear a seatbelt? If so, ask him why. If he says it's for his own safety, note that because he's such a good driver, it's really to protect him in case some idiot hits or pulls out in front of you, right? Later, ease into noting that signalling is a way to let lesser drivers know his intentions, reducing the risk of them ramming into or pulling out in front of him. Not only isn't signally uncool, it's a great way to tell other drivers "look, I'm doing X and screw you."

(Of course, this isn't entirely true but framing the point in this macho egotistical style may work for him better than the "basic consideration for other drivers" stuff.)
posted by wackybrit at 10:56 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


BoscosMom you nailed what it's like in our car. I forgot to add the part about how irritated he gets at other drivers for not knowing what he wants to do. That's been harder for me than the safety concerns. It's really crazy-making at the time. Thanks so much for your response.
posted by Mertonian at 10:57 PM on February 8, 2011


1) Not using your turn signals tells the people around you: "HEY! I'm stupid AND an asshole!"

That's not the message I want to convey. And the people riding with me don't need the embarrassment of being seen riding with a self-declared stupid asshole, either.

And, more importantly,

2) I use my turn signals because I want to live in a society in which people use their turn signals. (Because traffic moves more smoothly, there are fewer accidents, life is less aggravating, etc., on roads where the drivers all signal their intentions.)

And I can't think of any other way to achieve this goal.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 11:18 PM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe he doesn't know how to do it, as a gap in his education.

That, combined with the idea of having to learn it and integrate it into a set of long-learned behaviours, creates the tension. Mirror-signal-manoeuvre was engrained in me by having an instructor in the passenger seat. I do it on deserted roads, because not doing it feels wrong. It takes authority and repetition to establish that.

The carrot: if you signal, I'll respect it -- even if you've left it on by accident after a turn. You'll have as much room as you want, provided I don't impede other drivers. I'll hope in turn that you respect the ample warning that I try my best to provide.

If you don't, I'll be left trying to work out your intentions, and while I have decent defensive driving spidey-sense, I'm not telepathic -- though I will be muttering "thanks for indicating, arsehole" if you do end up switching lanes. Oh, and you might kill yourself and others.

To be clear: I am not looking at you. I am looking at the large fast-moving object that largely shields you from view, an object that is equipped with highly visible lights that are cunningly positioned at each corner, so that they can indicate the direction you wish to turn, or at the rear, for when you are applying the brakes. That is the language of driving, and ignoring it is like going abroad and complaining that nobody understands English, even though you're making such an effort to speak loudly and slowly.
posted by holgate at 11:30 PM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


there are two and only two potential explanations for not using a turn signal : you either don't understand how the mechanism works (or possibly don't know right from left without considering it for a moment) or you are entitled, arrogant, self-centered, and dangerous.

i'm going to assume your husband is not a willfully ignorant, purposefully dangerous person and focus on his not knowing how the lever works or possibly not feeling confident in his ability to discern right from left without consideration.

the level moves in the direction the steering wheel will turn when one turns the car. it is moved to the up position when the steering wheel will rotate clockwise, and similarly it moves down when the wheel will be spinning counterclockwise. thinking about where the tip of the turn signal lever is and visualizing steering wheel turning as he makes his turn will allow him to easily and confidently know that he is indicating his right and his left accurately and with minimal mental work to arrive at that outcome.

because seriously, his only other option is choosing to be inconsiderate and dangerous simply because it pleases him to do so.
posted by radiosilents at 11:40 PM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I tend to not use mine if I'm the only car on the road at 4am or something. It feels like talking to myself.

Normally, though, I do. That's because rule #2 of driving a car (after #1 "AVOID COLLISION even if it's the other guy's fault"), is "never surprise anyone around you." My theory is, that's what all traffic rules are about. People expect you to wait until your light turns green, so you don't go until it does - so they will not be surprised. People expect that it will take so many seconds for you to get to them, so you don't surprise them by driving 60 in a 30.

Turn signals. Same thing. You can do any crazy cutting-across-four-lanes-to-exit shit in the car you want, I don't care, as long as everyone's expecting it. If anyone is ever surprised by what you're doing, you're wrong.

Try spinning the turn signal thing as being a bad-ass. You get to use your turn signal LIKE A BOSS. MY turn signal is a NOTIFICATION, not a request. When I signal, and I know you saw it, I'm GOING to change lanes. I don't need to beg you to let me. You'd better not be in my spot.

Maybe that will help.
posted by ctmf at 11:46 PM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I don't want people to know what I'm thinking."
That's the actual answer a driver gave me when asked about not using signals.
Unbelievable!

As a motorcyclist, I watch carefully at drivers in lanes ahead of me...whether they signal or not they will slightly turn their head in the direction they are turning before moving into a lane.

But, there are other people who I feel 'overuse' their signals. Possibly he feels somewhat like I do. These timid drivers will flip on the signal and not move or turn even when a lane is open to them or they pass intersections w/o turning. That too can infuriating, impede traffic and even cause accidents.
posted by artdrectr at 12:14 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think something like this is involved, artdrectr. A tentativeness I've also observed at 4-way stops when he's not been sure it's his turn when it really is. Maybe he's not sure he can fit into the spot that might be created if he uses his signal so he works around the whole problem. Yes, that fits with how it feels, and why he won't discuss it.
posted by Mertonian at 1:08 AM on February 9, 2011


"If you get into an accident because you didn't signal, it'll be your fault and you'll have to pay."
posted by primer_dimer at 2:09 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aieee! This makes me so mad. As everyone in this thread has pointed out, there are a million reasons why your husband should use the blinkers. The safely of himself, you, other drivers, bikers, and pedestrians is pretty darn important, on top of the many other reasons.

Sometimes people see driving as a competitive little game (the quote that artdrectr posted makes me think so: "I don't want people to know what I'm thinking.") My dad is like this once in awhile, giving people mean looks as he speeds past (he's gotten better at being a nicer driver, thankfully.)

It's not really a little game, though. Other drivers CAN'T read your mind (and shouldn't have to!) You can't constantly think that other drivers are the bad guy ("Oh my Gooood, this lady is totally going slow ON PURPOSE just to make me mad!" No, actually, she's 88 years old and it's nighttime, so lay off. She doesn't give a damn about you, she's just trying to get home!)

I do this myself and it 1) leads to unnecessary negative feelings in both myself and whoever I'm with, and 2) makes the road more dangerous as my driving starts to match my internal feeling of "Everyone's out to get me so I'm gonna speed by and not use my blinker and act like a complete lunatic."

Maybe he could pretend that every time he uses his blinker, the person behind him is his grandma/dad/sister et cetera. Does he really want to be a rude jerk to those people?

Basically, I think it's key to assume that everyone else on the road is trying their best (even if they're not) and that it's so much better to be a considerate driver than a driver who thinks others are tuned in to the inner workings of his mind and therefore he can do what he pleases.

Yeah. Please show him this thread.
posted by sucre at 2:54 AM on February 9, 2011


I have a lot of experience with this kind of behaviour and I am not sure that rational argument is going to help. Basically, refusing to use turn signals is quite shocking and you've already tried to go through it with him using one whole other MeFi thread.

Basically when I've dealt with this kind of thing in other people, it was their belief system running the show, which in turn was a way of dealing with some basic fear they had. In one case, the person was using magical thinking to cope with a daily life made overwhelming by ADHD, addiction recovery, trauma, and fear of death. In another, it was a more simple matter of pride: they couldn't bear to be accused of being the sort of person who could cause an accident, so their choice was to correct the behaviour or deny that it was dangerous; they chose the latter and the best way (in their mind) to deny that it was dangerous was to keep doing it.

You may get somewhere by figuring out the underlying attitude and addressing that - not by pointing out that it's irrational or whatever, but by playing to it, kind of like you don't argue with someone who thinks he's Jesus but instead raise his self-esteem by giving him carpentry projects to do.

Bear in mind that whatever you do, the attitude is likely to pop up again in some other behaviour somehow. And I don't have any concrete suggestions.

Rather than go the arduous route, what I think will work best is simply to get your own car and drive that, and politely decline ever again to let him drive you anywhere. I don't suppose he will like that, and a car is a big chunk out of the budget so you won't be able to do it without prior discussion. But I do think it's your safest bet. And don't expect to change his mind this way - do it for yourself. Sorry, it's tough.
posted by tel3path at 3:30 AM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just do all the driving and tell him why.
posted by vitabellosi at 3:56 AM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Let him know that when he's stopped at at four way stop and wants to make a right turn and I'm the pedestrian crossing the cross walk on the street where he will be turning onto, I walk extra slow when he doesn't signal. Every time. If he signals, I speed up.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:25 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Isn't not signalling a ticketable offense? Maybe that's your argument right there -- find out what the fine is for not signalling and tell him what it is.

"You need to turn on the turn signal."

"Screw that!"

"Fine, but if you get a ticket I'm not lending you the four hundred bucks for the fine..."

"...Oh yeah." *blink blink*
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:45 AM on February 9, 2011


Some people are very embarassed at the thought of messing up when they drive, and not using a turn signal let's them avoid people knowing their intentions and thus knowing they messed up.

I do use my turn signal, but as a different example, if I get into a right turn lane, and then realize that I don't want to turn right, I will turn right anyway, even if I could safely get back out of the right turn lane -- because I don't want anyone around me to realize I made that mistake. If I get into the wrong lane and immediately have to move back to where I was, I feel really strong embarassment -- like face-flushing embarassment. It's stupid, but it is what it is.

It's possible by not signalling, your husband is not committing to lane changes, turns, whatever. That way, if he doesn't change lanes or turn for whatever reason (turned out to not be what he wanted to do, he thought he had room but didn't, etc), he won't be embarassed.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:57 AM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


IANAL but I think that turn signals must be used by law in at least some states in the USA. I don't know how likely he would be to be fined for not using them. However, I suspect that if failing to signal is a contributing factor in any accident he will be at a disadvantage in terms of insurance and in any legal wranglings.

Where I learned to drive in the UK the law does not require their use. However, if an accident occurs, and the lack of use is deemed to be a contributing factor then the driver will be held responsible. This would have obvious implications for insurance claims. In addition the driver can be prosecuted under another law, related to dangerous driving. This would likely include "driving without due care and attention" which carries a fine of up to £5000 and can result in disqualification from driving at the courts discretion. If the accident causes a death then the lack of signaling can be used to raise the penalty (i.e. prison time).

Basically, if you don't use turn signals you are not a very good driver, and people will think you are a prick.
posted by jonesor at 5:03 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Turf thing. "They can't make me do stuff, it's my car I'm driving here."

He is radically misunderstanding the mechanics of individual transport on roads owned and maintained by the community. Traffic is an interactive game. OF COURSE he has an obligation to notify others around him of what he is about to do.

(The benefits for himself, of less likely being bumped into and all that, are really secondary. This is all about the basics of communication, and about one dude refusing to participate properly)

[And even if this wasn't the case: even a driving genius can make a mistake. It is better to signal clearly that you're about to make a mistake, right?]
posted by Namlit at 5:17 AM on February 9, 2011


he feels that signaling is not cool somehow, not manly

Maybe if he were five that would be a reasonable "you're not the boss of me" type excuse...but we don't let five year olds drive cars. Rules of the road exist for a reason, yes some are stupid, but the whole point is that people are driving thousands of pounds of steel traveling at speeds that can maim or kill people, so we have established ways to help minimize the chances of that happening, like USING YOUR FREAKIN' TURN SIGNALS. Cars come equipped with them for a reason.

Professional racing drivers have been quoted as saying that they fear driving on roads far more than in races, because professional drivers follow rules that help them predict how each other will behave in a given situation, which helps avoid crashes, whereas lay people (like your husband, it seems) often avoid comparable road safety rules. If Michael Schumacher can use his turn signals, your husband can too! What on earth is "manly" about increasing the risk to everyone in his car, and every other driver he encounters on the road?
posted by biscotti at 5:35 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


in Australia you are legally required to use indicators whenever you turn or change lanes. its safer for all road user to knw when you are intending to change or turn.

Also pedestrians, cyclists and other road users being slower on the road, often rely on cars indicating that they are say turning left to know whether or not it is safe to cross a road. He's just going to end up killing some poor pedestrian who thought he was not going to turn (due to not indicating).
posted by mary8nne at 5:38 AM on February 9, 2011


When drivers see someone ahead of them without a turn signal, they assume that person is going straight and so maintain constant speed.

When drivers see someone ahead of them with a turn signal, they assume the person will be reducing speed, whether to stop fully at an intersection or simply slow slightly to change lanes, and so prepare to brake or start breaking.

When someone turns or changes lanes without a turn signal, the drivers behind them are not prepared to slow down. Now imagine said drivers are moving at a fast enough clip (like on a freeway) or close enough to the driver (like on a busy city street) that it is kind of important that they are ready to brake. This is how accidents happen. Your husband is a raging fucking asshole and I have watched a car roll over on a freeway because the driver ahead of said car changed lanes and the car had to swerve to avoid collision.
posted by schroedinger at 5:48 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some of the resistance might simply be to being *wrong*.

That said, there may be a difference of opinion in the use of the signal as alluded to above. Is it a request, or a notification? I try to drive like it's a notification. I signal only *after*I've checked for space to move (usually). Sometimes I get sloppy though. The only thing that saves my laziness from getting me in a wreck is the habitual swipe at the signal lever having alerted others.

Also, I do occasionally have to "ask permission" as it were, when traffic is congested. It generally hels, occasionally it makes things worse, but it's always better than the alternative.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 5:51 AM on February 9, 2011


Oh wow. That is really crazy-making- my boyfriend used to signal as much as 50% of the time, and I still thought I was going to die- I can't imagine how grating it must be if your husband never/almost never indicates.

I tried explaining variations of all of the above answers to him, but- nothing. This, coupled with the same irritation at other drivers who couldn't read his mind, made for miserable car rides with him.

Finally, I couldn't take it anymore, and declared that I would drive separately- yes, even if we were going to his mom's house, almost two hours away. It only took one enforcement of this policy to really drive home the point that I didn't feel safe riding with him, and now he is a diligent (if somewhat grudging) signaller.
posted by heyheylanagirl at 6:29 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just, wow. I would refuse to drive with anyone who didn't indicate.

But anyway, you might point out that he's inducing road rage in people like me who are driving and who are all like "do you see that fucker there?! Do you see him?! motherfucker isn't indicating! what do you think, I can read your mind?!" etc. etc. And then I drive poorly and probably kill someone.
posted by gaspode at 6:30 AM on February 9, 2011


Short answer:

Signalling makes driving safer and more stress-free for oneself, one's passengers, and any other traffic which may be on road (including cars, bikes, and pedestrians) whether you're aware of them or not.
posted by mazola at 6:38 AM on February 9, 2011


Oh, and:

You're not our shrink, but have you seen anything like this closely enough to understand it?

I am left to think that drivers who do not signal are not skilled enough to do so.
posted by mazola at 6:40 AM on February 9, 2011


primer_dimer: ""If you get into an accident because you didn't signal, it'll be your fault and you'll have to pay.""

As a corollary to this, when my husband is mad at another driver ("If we crash, it will be his fault!") I say "Yes, it would be his fault, BUT I WILL BE JUST AS DEAD NO MATTER WHOSE FAULT IT IS."
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:43 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whenever somebody pulls out in front of me without a signal they always get a "Nice signal, moron." from me. My kids always go "That's not nice mommy!" and I have to explain that no, really it is stupid to move without signalling because it's dangerous and completely inconsiderate. Saying that the person is being a moron is not calling names, it's stating fact.

When this happens I'm always picturing the driver as some airhead teenage girl with four friends in the car, probably talking on the phone. When I see that it's somebody older who should know better and have more experience and less distractions I get really angry. One is clearly a menace that probably doesn't know any better, the other is a menace that should know better and is being a jerk on purpose.

In short: not only is not signalling very uncool, it's teenage girl behavior.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:47 AM on February 9, 2011


If the safety aspect of using the turn signal isn't getting across to him, perhaps bring it up like this: "How would you feel if you caused a fatal accident because of not using your turn signal?" Fines and car repair aside, responsibility for killing another person would be life-altering, don't you think? It's just a thought that pops into my head sometimes when I've done something or am tempted to do something careless. "Is this worth possibly taking a life and living with that knowledge?" Not so much.

I went through something like this with my husband, who liked to speed around town 10 or 15 miles over the speed limit. He felt I was nagging him when I asked that he slow down a bit. Finally I said "Look, here's our monthly insurance cost. We can't afford anything higher. What do you plan to do to take care of the premium increase if you get a speeding ticket?" That helped him to see the light. Surely your insurance premiums would increase if your husband were ticketed for not using his signal, or caused any kind of accident because of it? Maybe couching your request in those terms would help get the point across.

Good luck, and thanks for trying to make the road safer for all of us!
posted by Fui Non Sum at 6:47 AM on February 9, 2011


Does he ever get upset at another driver who didn't signal? If so, I would hate to be around him. Some people live in a state of cognitive dissonance and think it is the norm.

Start doing all the driving. Tell him the training wheels will come off when he learns how to drive.

It's usually a dick thing. (because it's usually guys who do it, and it makes you a dick)
posted by KenManiac at 6:59 AM on February 9, 2011


I forgot to add the part about how irritated he gets at other drivers for not knowing what he wants to do.

Someone here once commented that drivers have "body language" that lets you predict what they're about to do, and it's true to an extent. But the thing is, people like your husband have car body language that communicates, "I'm unpredictable and might crash into you." That's why people usually give him a wide berth, and that's why he's been able to drive unsafely (not signalling) without getting injured or killed, or injuring or killing someone else.

He's probably used to people reading his "body language" and thus notices when some drivers don't, hence his irritation. But it's not that any driver ever knows what your husband actually wants to do ("Looks like that guy wants to move into my lane..."), it's that most drivers think, "I'd better hang back because this guy keeps cutting people off and is driving like and idiot."
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:10 AM on February 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Real Men use turn signals because Real Men are considerate of other people, and a Real Men doesn't care what other people think of him because he knows he's doing the right thing.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:11 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just as a data point, I'd like to throw out there that yes, sometimes I CAN tell that the jerk next to me is trying to get in my lane. But if he isn't using his turn signal, I feel no obligation to be helpful or let him in. I'll go out of my way NOT to. Because hey, I didn't know he wanted to be in my lane. No turn signal!

Everyone is right that it's about safety. It's also just about politeness. If someone puts on their signal, rather than nearly swerving into me, I'll be much more likely to let them in because they followed the rules and respected my right not to have to slam on my brakes because they are above signaling.

There are so many good points in this thread already, like "Hey, you could kill someone." Unfortunately, this sort of logic doesn't seem to apply to men who think this way. My ex refused to wear his SEATBELT (what a gem) for the first year we were dating. What finally got him to start wearing it? not all my begging, the logic, the "i don't want you dead." no, it was because he got like, five seatbelt tickets and was ANGRY about paying them. i'm pretty sure not using your signal is a ticketable offense everywhere, but the problem is enforcement. which is unfortunate, because i bet if he got a few tickets he'd reconsider. other than that, maybe just show him this thread and he might finally understand that EVERYONE who sees him driving this way thinks HE IS AN ASSHOLE. But I also think they heyheylanagirl's idea is probably the most effective (refuse to drive with him anymore.)

I hope you guys work this out. to me, his behavior screams "immature" and i'd only be able to put up with it for so long. your safety should come way before his misplaced sense of masculinity and power in a car.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 7:13 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm a pedestrian. I usually wait to cross a road if I see a car signalling to enter it.

No signal? Too bad! I couldn't tell you wanted to go that way, so you can wait for me to cross the road. And if you almost hit me, enjoy my fantasies of keying your hood as I pass your car. Someday I might be pushed to make them a reality.
posted by cadge at 7:28 AM on February 9, 2011


The key to driving safety is to be predictable. You can't control what distractions other drivers on the road are facing or guarantee that they are paying attention, but you can control how you drive and present yourself so that people can predict what you'll do.

Bright blinky lights help you be predictable in your lane changes.
posted by bookdragoness at 7:43 AM on February 9, 2011


jacquilynne I think you've got it. I'm going to ask him when he gets up in a bit. I'll be able to tell if this is it. Alas, I can't do the driving these days because of a medical condition that requires morphine and other meds.
posted by Mertonian at 7:48 AM on February 9, 2011


No amount of screaming or cajoling have any influence here, so his resistance runs very deep.

Try this:
     [lane change]

"Oooo! Nice move Vin Deisel ... you're so ... *manly*!"

     [left turn]

"YEEEEEE-HAAAAW!"

     [merge]

"Suckers! They weren't expecting *that*!"
This may be more effective in getting divorced than actually changing his habits, tho'.

In real life the things that I have seen that actually work in influencing change are:
  1. Having kids
  2. Getting tickets

posted by mazola at 7:48 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just finished reading all of these and wish I could thank you all individually. These are really excellent points that I can't see how he'll be able to deny. And the validation of how it feels is right on, most welcome. Thanks everyone!
posted by Mertonian at 7:55 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gilbert said:
Your average sedan weighs about 900 pounds.
What? My mini cooper weighs 2,500 lbs!
Does he get that force=mass*acceleration
Momentum equals mass times velocity and then you get into impact and impulse and elastic and inelastic collisions.
posted by Brian Puccio at 8:12 AM on February 9, 2011


He does this because he can - he's done it for thirty years without repercussion, and you've resisted, but ultimately accepted it from him. So he doesn't have to take you seriously. You may need to radically change your strategy, and realize it's not about making him see logic, it's about removing the power struggle between the two of you as much as the one he's having with every other vehicle or pedestrian on the road.

I think it was here on Metafilter that I first heard about Positive and Negative Face. So, "Negative face was defined as "the want of every 'competent adult member' that his actions be unimpeded by others". There are some strategies for dealing with this that are mentioned - and in this case, I'd suggest that after all you've tried, pessimism plus politeness may work: "You couldn’t consider using turn signals on this trip, could you? I slept badly last night, and would love it if you could relieve me of that extra stress." But there's also plenty of extra reading mentioned. From this I learned that my husband hates being asked by me to do anything verbally - it rankles because it reminds him of some unpleasantness in his upbringing - but if I leave a "to-do" list, he'll do more than I would ask him to because somehow the affront is blunted in that way, and it's his choice to do it.

If you make it his choice to use the signals, then it's more likely to happen. Right now, he doesn't need to, doesn't want to, and gets some perverse pleasure out of not choosing to - and as long as you keep getting in the car with him, you reinforce that he can keep getting away with this with you.
posted by peagood at 8:13 AM on February 9, 2011


Is your spouse what I call a "freedom freak"? My experience is entirely anecdotal, but almost invariably the guy who tailgates me at 50 miles/hr (in a 50 MPH zone) gesticulating wildly that I should go faster or move over, or the guy who never signals for lane changes or turns, has a "don't tread on me" or similar bumper sticker on the back of their vehicle.

So getting back to your original question, if your spouse's attitude towards laws in general are that they "limit his freedom" then your quest to make him a more considerate driver will be far harder than you think.
posted by teg4rvn at 8:15 AM on February 9, 2011


The amount of rage this type of behavior inspires in me makes it impossible to answer this question like an adult. Jesus. How about 'because it's the law???'
posted by spicynuts at 8:16 AM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Mertonian, you may not be able to drive but that doesn't mean you have to ride in the car while he's driving. You could start taking taxis (or other transport) and have him foot the bill because he doesn't drive safely enough for you to ride with him. This may be a bit extreme.
posted by medusa at 8:24 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Signaling is manly (his term) and just plain adult. Why? Because it's something you do for the specific purpose of managing other drivers' actions and egos.

Turning or changing lanes without signaling is an unmistakable "fuck you" to the other drivers around you. Common courtesy should be enough reason to not do this. But even if it's not, it primes other drivers to retaliate by tailgating, passing and then cutting you off, etc. Creating this kind of hostility and then having to react to it for the next 10 miles isn't manly; it's what 16-year-old boys do.

Men/adults play a longer game. Extending courtesies shows control. You choose which cars get to merge in front of you. You choose when to let faster traffic by and when to take the left lane. You do it because you see the bigger picture. These other schmucks don't know how to drive. It's up to you to tell them who goes where. That's what turn signals are for.
posted by anonymice at 8:26 AM on February 9, 2011


Mertonian, if you can't do the driving, my suggestion is to take public transportation and cabs.
posted by tel3path at 8:26 AM on February 9, 2011


We've talked and I now know what it is. Without going into too much detail it's what jacquilynne and another intuited: insecurity about telling people where he wants to go and then making that happen. There may even be a spatial relations component as parallel parking has always been hard. He's really a great driver in every other respect, so we're going back to school on this one. Thanks all, I've struggled with this for nearly three decades and in less than 24 hours you figured it out.
posted by Mertonian at 8:43 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


My husband is convinced that if he signals a lane change the other drivers will speed up to block him. So he uses it when there is no one around, and doesn't when he is feeling the traffic pressure.
posted by SLC Mom at 9:00 AM on February 9, 2011


I have always remembered the words of my driver's ed instructor:
"USE THE BLINKER. What? Do you have to change it every 3,000 miles? Do you need to replace the blinker fluid? No! Just use the damn thing."
posted by missmary6 at 9:11 AM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


If a cop decides they want to pull you over for no reason, well, not signaling is more than enough reason.
posted by box at 9:19 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, OP -- if I were you I would simply and categorically refuse to ride in a car being piloted in such an illegal and unsafe fashion. You are risking your own life (and do you have children?) more than you need to by being in a car that is driven by him. Lay it on the line. You don't care what his reasons are, they are irrelevant. If he won't drive safely, he won't drive with you.

It may be inconvenient at times but at least you won't be DEAD or the witness to a DEATH that he has caused by his stupidity.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:24 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Intelligent and enlightened people call the device a "turn signal".
Morons and assholes call them "blinkers".
(it all depends what your relationship to the turn signal is... as a safety tool or as an annoyance)

Driving is IMO immersing yourself in The Jungle.
With all those wild beasts around my M.O. has always been
Make No Sudden Moves, i.e. do not provoke the beasts lest they attack.
Using the turn signals facilitates this.

(again it all depends on how one views themselves... as one of the beasts or as one who is responsible for more than simply themselves. Help him to decide which is the most prudent to be).

I just Googled "Turn Signal Accidents" and it appears there is no shortage of statistical and anecdotal evidence to arm yourself with.
posted by No Shmoobles at 9:33 AM on February 9, 2011


We've talked and I now know what it is. Without going into too much detail it's what jacquilynne and another intuited: insecurity about telling people where he wants to go and then making that happen.

I have more sympathy for your husband based on this. To that, be assured that practice helps. Also: he can take the mental load off by not thinking 'is this a case where I should signal?' and just always make signalling part of his routine. Again, practice and consistency soon becomes instinct.

Good luck!
posted by mazola at 9:33 AM on February 9, 2011


If a cop decides they want to pull you over for no reason, well, not signaling is more than enough reason.

It's reason enough to pull you over, and (in NY state at least) give you a $250 ticket plus two points on your license. So if all the good reasons above aren't enough to convince him, perhaps the fact that it can have very expensive and inconvenient consequences will be.
posted by dizziest at 10:01 AM on February 9, 2011


There's really no excuse for this -- it's intentional recklessness in driving, really -- and would seem to me to indicate a subliminal animosity to other drivers. Summed up by someone on Usenet years ago who had the long-time sig, "Using your turn signal is not 'giving information to the enemy.'"
posted by aught at 10:02 AM on February 9, 2011


Wow! It's amazingly cool to know that there are all these people out there who DO use their turn signals, who do care about other people, and who are conscientious about trying to let others know their intentions!

I was going to ask if OPs husband was from NC. NC - at least the part I am currently living in - is KNOWN for drivers who don't use turn signals. Or - they have their turn signals on and then don't do what the turn signal indicates, but something completely different. We say that, in NC, if you see someone's turn signal on, it means nothing except "the light works".

I always use mine, but then I'm not from this area.

So, all you really neat people, please beware this when driving through NC...
posted by Leah at 11:15 AM on February 9, 2011


If he is too neurotic to drive safely, he is too neurotic to drive. Period.
If his spatial perception is too faulty to allow him to drive safely, he is too brain damaged to drive. Period.
Never get in the car with him again. Period.
If these are just lame rationalizations for his unconscionable behavior then he is just another p.o.s. moron out to kill the rest of us to prove his coolness and manliness (neither of which he is).
posted by txmon at 11:17 AM on February 9, 2011


As a city cyclist and a crazy driver, I have just two points:

1) Be predictable, you don't have many duties to your fellow drivers. Stopping completely at stops (including rights on red) and using your turn signal (including rights on red) covers 99% of them.

2) Braess' Paradox tells us why adding lanes to a road doesn't reduce traffic: people are selfish.

Every bad driver thinks the *other* drivers are psycho when it's really just hypocrisy. Where people do not signal and stop, you see what it looks like when anybody can leap out by surprise and put you in danger. PTSD driving.
posted by rhizome at 11:39 AM on February 9, 2011


Some people use their turn signal to change lanes, but they turn it on at the same time they start to change lanes. I have begun trying to make a conscious effort to set it blink 4 times before I begin to change lanes. People are generally a little better about letting you in if you're considerate and let them know your intentions. And I try to give a "Hey thanks" wave when they do let me in.
posted by Daddy-O at 5:13 AM on February 10, 2011


I'm an agressive driver. If you find yourself passed and the car in front of you passed, passed in such a way you're actually offended because the passer was driving as if the speed limit---which has so burdened you you've developed mechanisms to defer your aggression, like purposefully blocking drivers so as to enforce this rule you so ultimately dislike---don't apply to to them, that's me. I have a sports car, which is extremely fast and handles with the crispness of a precisely crafted pistol loading a bullet into the chamber. I drive the way you wish you could drive. Everyday is like Bullitt for me, and I'm good at it too.

But I always, always use my turn signal. It's the smart thing to do. Clear communication is always to your advantage---there's no downside. Driving is a social interaction exchanged at high speeds and with a lot of weight. You want to communicate clearly your intentions, or you'll leave people guessing.
posted by luckypozzo at 7:09 AM on February 11, 2011


Intelligent and enlightened people call the device a "turn signal".

And very intelligent people call them "indicators."
posted by wackybrit at 9:16 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


A bit late to the question, but I saw this article and thought you might like to have it in your arsenal: New York State Police show that the following factors (in order) cause the most accidents – and all of them are under the driver’s control: [...] 3. Not using turn signals.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:31 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


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