Survey says too many drivers keep others guessing

Monday, March 27, 2006

We sometimes wonder if people know what that little stem on the left side of the steering wheel is for.

Crossing a through street, it's wise not to believe your eyes. If the car's turn signals are dark, there's a 50-50 chance it's going to turn anyway. If the closest one is blinking, there's a slightly higher chance that the car will actually turn.

But an insurance company says drivers in our area are not alone in our unwillingness to use our turn signals.

According to a national survey by the Response Insurance Co., 57 percent of American drivers admit they don't use their turn signal when changing lanes.

What's surprising, however, are the reasons they gave.

According to the survey, 42 percent said they don't have enough time, 23 percent say they are just plain "lazy," 17 percent don't signal because when they do, they forget to turn it off, 12 percent admit they are changing lanes too frequently to bother, 11 percent say it is not important, 8 percent say they don't signal because other drivers don't, and, perhaps most disturbingly, 7 percent say forgoing the signal "adds excitement to driving."

We think driving is exciting enough.

The company categorizes drivers into several types when it comes to turn signals -- Impulsive, Lazy, Forgetful, Swervers, Ostriches, Followers and Dare Devils.

The Response Insurance National Driving Habits Survey also indicated that men are more likely than women to forgo their signal when changing lanes (62 percent vs. 53 percent) as are younger drivers (ages 18-24), 71 percent of whom report they don't signal, as compared to 49 percent of older adults (ages 55-64).

While the survey seems to be more concerned about rush-hour drivers, local problems tend toward more basic issues such as signaling a 90-degree turn.

For the record, the Nebraska manual says drivers must signal when changing lanes, pulling in or out of a parking place, pulling into traffic from a parking area or alley, and signal at least 100 feet before turning or changing lanes -- and don't change lanes in an intersection.

It's ironic that Nebraskans can be so considerate in every other way, yet be rude when it comes to letting other drivers know what we're up to.

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