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Omdahl: Bless Other Drivers by Using Turn Signals

By Staff | Jun 5, 2015

Good morning, class. This is the first session of “Remedial Turn Signals 100” for which no college credit will be given but an embossed certificate will be awarded upon completion of the practicum.

Now I noticed that North Dakota AARP has been holding driver education sessions around the state to which I say: better late than never. (That shouldn’t be said by firemen, however. It will just aggravate a homeowner who just ceased being a homeowner because of tardiness.)

To get an appreciation for the importance of technological improvements such as turn signals, we should look at problems that drove the improvement of automobiles through the years.

The first automobiles did not have fenders so people were arriving at fancy parties with streaks of mud down their backs. This was uncouth so fenders were added to encourage a continuation of fancy parties.

The headlight came next for a couple of reasons.

North Dakota was an open range state. That meant animals paid no attention to traffic signs and those Holsteins were hard to see at dusk.

It was a problem but nothing happened until the governor’s blue ribbon ox got hit in 1896. Headlight legislation appeared in 1897. (Prompt legislation depends on whose ox is being gored.)

Another reason for headlights was Scriptural. The Bible says that man loves the dark where sin can prevail. It was hard to find those dark places without headlights.

Turn signals first appeared in 1940 because of the mayhem caused by arm signals. The straight arm for the left hand turn was clipping the heads of bicyclists and pedestrians. In busy traffic, arms and heads were in jeopardy.

Besides, many people didn’t understand the arm signs and just waved back. Others prized their limbs too much to stick them out in traffic. Losing an arm was very instructive.

The core principle of this lesson on turn signals is simple: turn signals are a civic responsibility, primarily to forewarn other motorists of intentions.

To be a good citizen, you must use them or you will be compelled to pass the new civics exam with the school kids and immigrants.

The first step is to locate the turn signal mechanism. If you look past the steering wheel, you will notice a lever on the left side of the steering column. It is not there for hanging electronic devices. That lever is called the turn signal because it has something to do with turning.

This lever goes up and down. The “up” position will activate a flashing light that will appear simultaneously on your instrument panel and on the right side of the vehicle. That tells the drivers around you that everyone on the right had better have insurance.

The same procedure applies to the left side.

Now that doesn’t seem so complicated, does it? However, for many drivers it seems to be.

Some are already over their heads just holding the steering wheel. I’m sure AARP saw a few of those. Others can’t make up their minds, something that is critical for using turn signals.

Indecision is a real problem for drivers. Take the popularity of extended cab pickups with short boxes. They are bought by people who don’t know whether they should get a pickup or a sedan so they buy something that is both and neither.

Turn signals require persons of decision. So be a civic-minded decision-maker. Help your fellow beings get through life by using turn signals. They will bless you for it, whatever that’s worth.

If you pass the quiz on turn signals, you can move up to the next lesson: “Parking between Yellow Lines 102.”

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