Hey Panini Heads, Why No Turn Signals?

“On your left with a knife.”

The sous-chef wasn’t asking for permission to pass, she was just telling the other young chefs in Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ that if they preferred not to be stabbed, they should make way.   From the moment they learn how to prepare food together, these fancy cooks also learn how to indicate their presence and intended movements to each other because otherwise their kitchen becomes dangerous or even deadly.

Chef Ramsay demands it.

Now if only he was in charge of turn signals.

I’m not sure when this started, but the drivers in America have stopped indicating.  No one bothers to use their turn signals anymore, and it’s really getting noticeable.

And dangerous.

“Hey Panini head,” says Chef Ramsay, “are you listening to me?”

According to research conducted by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), drivers who fail to use their turn signals account for over 2 million accidents annually.  Compare that to distracted driving, which accounts for around 950,000 accidents annually. This means that nearly 1 in 5 of all crashes in the United States can be attributed to neglected turn signals. (Link to reference)

But this statistic could easily be improved with a flick and a blink-blink-blink.

So you know, national law requires all automotive vehicles have operational turn signal devices installed and that drivers use those signals to indicate any lane change or turn.  That’s true for turns performed in designated turning lanes, too.  That means when you’re about to change lanes or turn, you’re lawfully required to tell the other drivers with your turn signal.

And if you don’t?

As Chef Ramsay says (holding a piece of bread over each of your ears):  “You’re an idiot sandwich.”

Seriously, legalities aside, let’s talk about our unwillingness to consider other drivers on the road.  Switching lanes or turning in front of someone unannounced is as rude on the road as it is at the mall or in a hallway or on a busy sidewalk, but because we’re behind tinted glass and moving fast we act like it isn’t.

But it is.

When did we stop thinking of the roadways as being filled with a community of fellow drivers and started treating it like our own personal racetrack?   Why do we think it’s okay to be rude to our fellow commuters and cut them off unannounced?  What might Chef Ramsay say to a young wannabe in his kitchen who barges in front of his coworkers without any heads up?

“You deserve a kick in the n*ts.”

Look, the real cops are too busy fighting real crime to police something as simple and obvious as using your turn signal.  And we all know it.  That’s why we ignore the turn signal law unless a cop is around, then suddenly everyone turns into a conscientious driver who can’t indicate enough.  And as Chef Ramsay might say:

“You’ve now just confirmed in my mind you’re not trustworthy.  So f%$# you.”

It’s not just a matter of obeying the law or about courtesy, though both should be motivation enough.  It’s more a matter of safety, ladies and gentlemen, so regardless of whether or not ‘the man’ is watching, it’s up to each of us, old and especially young, to step up, do the right thing, and indicate.

And one more important point.

Please don’t think of using your turn signal as asking strangers for permission.  I know that for a lot of us Americans, there can be some ego damage involved with having to clear your plans with others, but it’s truly not the case here.  You’re a driver in a heavy vehicle, a sous-chef with a very sharp knife, and you’re just telling the other drivers that if they prefer not to have their own autos smashed or dented, they should probably make way.

Flick.  Blink – blink – blink.

“On your left with a 4,000 pound killing machine.”

It’s so easy, now let’s all give it a try.

  • Mike Lukas


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