USE YOUR TURN SIGNALS,
BUT NOT YOUR HAZARD LIGHTS
A PR rep for an auto manufacturer a few years ago said that after she had moved from St. Louis to Nashville she was stopped behind a car at an intersection and when the car didn’t move when the light changed, she honked her horn.
She said her husband reached over an gently touched her arm and said in a quiet voice, “Honey, in Nashville we don’t honk at people like that.”
Another friend overheard the story and laughed.
“In Miami,” he said, “they honk when the light in the other direction turns yellow.”
Not me. Not any more any way. I don’t honk. This is Miami and you don’t know what the guy in front of you might be packing. (“Say hello to my little friend.”)
Would you believe I don’t honk because I’m such a nice guy and very patient?
OK. Maybe not. Well, really the thing is, so many other things annoy me when I’m driving in South Florida that someone who lingers at a light is way down on my list.
Here are some examples of situations that get me riled:
—Drivers who don’t use their turn signals.
As you can see from the above photo, the state or county has embarked on a campaign to try to remind drivers about various safety regulations in Florida via electronic signs above the roadway.
Last week it was a reminder to signal when changing lanes. Considering some people don’t use their turn signals to let you know when they are making a left turn and hardly any at all do so on a right turn, I’d say this is a fruitless campaign. Signal when changing lanes? What a radical idea!
But I admire FDOT’s spirit
This week the electronic reminder concerns moving vehicle from traffic lanes in the case of minor accidents with no injuries. It doesn’t take long for traffic to back up when one lane is blocked, and it makes no sense to leave your vehicle in the middle of the street if the damage is little.
Believe me. Your fender-bender may be big for you, but for the police, it’s trivial to what they face nearly every day. You’re lucky they look at your driver’s license.
—Drivers who turn on their flashers when it’s raining.
Like the requirement to use signal when changing lanes, it is a state law that you do NOT turn on your hazard lights while you are driving when it is raining. Yet many drivers in South Florida do exactly that, especially in heavy rain.
State law limits the use of hazard lights (it’s the button with the red triangle that you push) is limited in Florida to emergency situations when you are stopped or stalled. The one time in the state you are allowed to turn on your flashers is when you are driving in a funeral procession.
Turn them on other times and you may just end up in one.
—Drivers who honk when traffic is stopped and backed up.
Really. Does that help?
There’s an old joke that a guy was stopped at an intersection waiting to allow a little old lady make her way slowly across the street and a guy behind him honked.
The guy in the front car got out and said to the one behind while sweeping his arm toward the little old lady: “You go ahead and run her down. I don’t have the stomach for it.”
—People talking on their cell phones while driving.
I’ll bet that 90 percent of the time someone in front of me does something stupid, like swerve out of a lane or gradually slow down before making an abrupt turn (without signaling), that person is holding a cell phone up to his/her ear while driving. Texting, of course, is even worse.
—Drivers who hang in the left lane on expressways. The left lane on expressways should be for passing, though I guess there are exceptions in urban areas.
I know Kentucky is among states that have passed laws limiting the left lane for passing because there are signs along interstates in the Bluegrass State informing drivers to move to the right except when passing.
Florida has tinkered with that idea and at least once the state legislature has passed it, but Jeb Bush, the governor at the time, vetoed it because, he said, he didn’t want to encourage speeding. As if anybody in the left lane goes the speed limit.
—Drivers who follow too closely.
Tailgating is great — at football games. On the interstate or even around town, not so much. The problem is there’s not a lot that you, the one being tailgated, can do about it. Sometimes I tap my brakes, but frankly that’s probably not a very good idea. Just ticks them off.
There are other things have can be annoying, but I have listed the major ones. At least for me. Maybe for you the driver who fails to see that the light has turned green and just sits motionless is at the top of your list.
Honk! Honk! Honk!