Throttle Therapy

Free-wheelin’ signals gotta go

Turn signals on vehicles should not confuse other drivers

This early onslaught of spring has seen the emergence of many motorcycles. I happened to be travelling behind one fellow who committed the cardinal sin as far as looking through a safety-advocate’s eyes: He signalled, turned, and then failed to cancel his signal lights. And then, he proceeded through two other intersections before turn in the other direction. This second time, though, he cancelled his signal.

I hear the indignation from many riders how absolutely stunned “cage” drivers are. And when I see stuff like this, it makes me want to scream out that you owe someone else a free deposit at the indignation bank.

I know of what I speak. There was that time when I barrelled straight through an intersection and had a left-turning vehicle almost take me out.

I laid on my horn, thinking this was the classic intersection accident that I marvellously avoided with my instantaneous reflexes and fantastic manoeuvring skills.

And in an equally-quick instance, the woman driving the “cage” pointed down and however she did it, she drew my attention to the fact that I was signalling a left-hand turn. Which, had my intention matched my communications, entitled her to turn left when she did.

And in the third flash-of-an-instance, I was converted into an embarrassed, sheepish fool who almost got herself nailed by a car, and who almost inflicted horrible trauma onto a driver of a “cage.”

Since then, I have mastered two solid habits. The first is mechanical. I cancel twice after I execute any turn, and I have trained myself to automatically cancel my signal lights as I approach an intersection. It doesn’t require much effort anymore. It’s a one-inch motion of my left thumb. There is no impact on my ability to control my machine, but that little habit can save my life.

The second is more philosophical. When I drive in my car, I have been known to be a tad aggressive. Um, I mean ‘assertive.’ But when I’m on my bike, my mindset changes. Everyone on the road is doing the best they can. And at the same time, no one on the road knows as much as I do. Therefore, my safety is fully and completely up to me. This means instantaneously forgiving “idiots,” because when I ride in a shroud of anger, it affects my ability to be in the moment. If I want to live to ride another day, I have to be here, now.

One way that you can help to ensure your safety is by communicating clearly and concisely what your intentions are. And once you have executed the movement you have communicated, stop. A signal light never says that she executed a right-hand turn successfully three blocks back. Which is what an un-cancelled signal light is saying. It would always say, he is about to turn to give him the space to do so. The second is to p ark your indignation. I’m willing to bet that you, like me, are not quite perfect. And when you let go of that indignation, it makes riding just that much more fun.