Editorial: Blinker report signals need for change

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

A first-of-its-kind report confirms a suspicion many of us have had for years.

Whether it’s because one hand is holding a cellphone or simply because our sense of common courtesy is on the blink, few of us are using our turn signals when driving.

The Society of Automotive Engineers this week released the results of a research project that determined drivers either neglect to use their signals when changing lanes – or fail to turn the signals off – 48 percent of the time. And the failure-to-signal rate among drivers making a turn is about 25 percent.

Unfortunately, the report offered no insight on the prevalence of people who don’t put their blinkers on at stop lights until people going straight are queued up behind them.

“This is a first-of-its-kind report on a subject that, amazingly, has never been studied,” said Richard Ponziani, author of the report.

Lest you think this is an intermittent problem, the report notes that it’s causing 2 million accidents a year. That’s twice as many as are caused by distracted driving, which has been the focus of recent driving laws and regulations.

The plan offered in response to the blinker problem doesn’t center on a new law. Instead, it centers on the growing power of onboard computers.

The SAE report suggests that manufacturers begin installing what it calls the “smart turn signal,” which would not just automatically shut off a turn signal after a lane change or turn but also flash what the study calls a “friendly” reminder for a driver who routinely fails to signal.

We might go one step further and suggest that as more insurers use onboard computers to measure the driving habits that help them determine premiums, blinker use should be front and center.

It’s either that or have Apple and the rest of the gang add a turn-signal toggle to the side of our cellphones.

The Patriot Ledger