Communication via Turn Signals

turn signalMy dad taught me to drive.  In doing so he taught me to be a defensive driver – always being aware of my surroundings and anticipating what the other drivers are doing assuming they are not paying attention.


Boy was he spot on.


Overall I’m a pretty relaxed driver.  I let people merge in when they need to, I’m ok with taking turns, I give leeway to semi-drivers and don’t try to sneak in front of them at the last minute on a snail’s pace exit lane.  There are just two things I firmly believe in: turn signals are an indicator not a right and you should always, always do the friendly courtesy wave-thank you when someone lets you in.


This weekend I was coming home, driving along a stretch of interstate that within two miles the left lane turned into a separate exit merging onto a different highway.  I was in the middle lane and there was moderate traffic on both sides, but most people were playing nice and merging to the right to get out of the upcoming exit lane.




Then there was one.


I will call him Mr. “The Road is Mine.”


He turned on his turn signal and immediately began to merge into the middle lane.  The problem was – I was still there.  Apparently his turn signal was communicating two things:


1.  He put on his turn signal so that meant that everyone should clearly make a path for him.

2.  He had full right to use a strong arm tactic of merging over into a lane even when occupied was as it was an appropriate way to merge even it if meant the vehicle occupying the space he was crowding into would have to slam on their brakes thus possibly causing an accident, but he would get his spot so it was ok.


Wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.


I would have gladly let Mr. TRiM over but it so happened we were passing a merge lane and the cars in the right were unable to let me over to allow him to come over and there was not enough space in front of me for him to enter and I really didn’t thing the guy on my bumper wanted me to slam on my brakes.


So I continued with the line of traffic until I could safely merge over and allow Mr. Trim over.  Oh, all while laying on my horn the entire time communicating to him that I was there, he did not have the right to attempt to hit my car and I would continue to maintain that space until I could safely – for everyone’s sake – move.


He was able to merge into the lane safely with about a mile to spare.


He wasn’t happy, but we are all alive and avoided any unnecessary accidents.


Sometimes I run across people in job searching who hold the same skewed thought similar to turn signals.  “I told you I was looking for a job so you have to help me.”


Have to.


Not please and thank you, would greatly appreciate it, but have to because I mentioned it.


Wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.


First, expecting people to help you is a very selfish way to go about things.  People help you because they want to, like you or care about you – not because it is an obligation just because you say so.


Second, perhaps they are not in a position to do so.  It doesn’t mean they will not in the future, but at this very moment they cannot.  That does not make the bad or mean, just a situation of circumstance.  When the lane clears they may be more than willing to help you out.


Third, maybe – just maybe – in telling them the information you have been remiss in giving them enough information to truly help you.  Did you tell them what kind of position, in what industry, doing what types of things, in what area etc?


Just because you turned on the turn signal does not mean you have full right to the entire road.  It is merely an indication.  How you use it from there is up to you.  Your next actions will determine if those around you help you or hinder you or even ignore you.


Instead of turning it on and telling everyone I need a job now you have to help me; try turning it on, telling them I could use your help and allow them to see what they can do to help you.


And when they do – don’t forget the friendly courtesy wave-thank you!



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


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