For my first real attempt at showing how relevant etiquette is to contemporary life, as well as how it is a matter of ethics and choosing to lead a “good” life, I’ve decided to tackle the issue of turn signals.
It is an obvious part of driving in a sane, responsible way. Why is it, then, that I can drive for hours straight, in city traffic and in rural areas, without once seeing a turn signal? Perhaps because a large percentage of drivers are not considering their own life when driving, much less the lives of others, and that disregard for social welfare is what links turn signals to ethics and etiquette. “Sane” and “responsible” are boring! You might not make it to the stop light first!
Using one’s turn signals is a matter of safety for yourself, and it is a way to provide for the safety of others.
Sure, sometimes, when you signal your intention to merge, change lanes, etc., the idiot in the lane next to you will attempt to prove the superior size of his penis by speeding up to cut you off. Oh, well. Ethics must work even when dealing with the undeserving. Just let him get ahead of you, and slide in behind him. You’ll live; you don’t need to be “first” any more than he does.
Turn signals can be merely a demonstration of the social niceties: “I know you’re way too far back there to really need this notification that I’m turning or merging, but I value you as a being, and therefore I am signaling my intention. I do not disregard you.”
Other times, however, it’s a matter of life and death. In general, the more you think you don’t have “time” to signal or the more some A@@hole seems like he’ll be a jerk and cut you off if you use them, the more you must use them, though that’s when you’ll least want to use them. If you ever feel as if you don’t want to use your signals or can’t use them for some reason, those are the times you must do so.
Remember, if you’re driving so fast and merging into a space so small that the milisecond it takes to flip on your turn signal would “take too long,” you’re driving too fast. I have seen too many people neglect to use their signals and swerve over into the next lane, surprising both the people behind them in their original lane, and the people they are now in front of. Motocycle drivers are especially suscpetible to the considerable backdraft a moving car causes, and a surprise change of lane by one of their neighbors can, has, and will continue to cause deaths. Merely because you were afraid they’d speed up to cut you off.
Like it or not, playing by the rules (especially the rules that make sense, like this one) is a part of being a social creature, an adult, and an ethical person.
So consider the needs and feelings of other people and demonstrate your ethical savvy with a mere flick of a finger (no, not THAT finger), and use those turn signals. I’m resisting the urge to say “the life you save may be your own,” but, well, it might be.