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Before blinking electronic turn signals were introduced into automobiles around 1940, hand signals were the primary method motorists used to signal to other drivers their intentions of turning left, turning right, stopping or slowing down.
Since hand signals are practically obsolete now, anyone caught holding his or her left hand out the driver’s window and giving hand signals today might either get arrested or be subject to threats or obscene gestures from other motorists.
As today’s driving has become much more involved and complex than in the past, things have reached the point where this might actually be a good time to consider not only bringing back the original hand signals but also to add a few more.
At the very least, it would be fun and interesting.
If this were to occur, however, hand signals for our modern, sophisticated lifestyle would obviously require some changes.
Some possible signaling suggestions might include holding the left hand out the window and waving it wildly back and forth meaning; “I’m in a hurry to get to the restroom/job/school/Walmart/dollar store/pick up the kids at soccer, so for the next few miles I might be speeding up, slowing down or weaving back and forth while changing lanes.”
Another idea might be to hold the left arm out the window and rapidly open and close the fist. That could signal: “I still have several more friends to text, call or send cutesey photos before reaching my current destination. If I am looking down at the phone in my lap and appear to not have my mind on my driving, I have an excuse.”
Several options already exist for signaling to the driver in the vehicle ahead of you that he or she is going too slow for you.
If it’s during the day, the best way to combat this practice has always been to either lean on your horn nonstop for about 10 seconds or hit it several times in short succession with irritating bursts.
In case Mr. Slowpoke is glancing back at you in his rearview mirror, it always helps to throw up your arms and gesture in disgust so he and everyone else can see how you really feel.
If it’s at night, the best method for dealing with someone going too slow has always been to get right up on his rear bumper and try to blind him with your bright lights while continuing to honk the horn.
Any of these methods should continue to be effective enough to let the idiot in front of you realize he needs to either move over or get off the highway immediately if not sooner.
After all, since you pay your taxes, this is essentially your road.
Another new hand signal might be to stick your arm out the window while pointing your index finger back in the direction of your car. That could mean “Hey, check out my new ride” or “How ‘bout my dog, ain’t he cute?”
In some cases it might be a better idea and more practical to use bumper stickers instead of hand signals to get a message across while driving.
Since we already have plenty of dull and boring items out there like “Proud parent of an honor student,” “Baby on board” or “Save the whales, here are a few suggestions for modern bumper stickers:
• “I’m a lousy driver and I know it.”
• “Please don’t blow your horn at me — I can’t hear at all and I can’t see very well, either.”
• “If I appear to be lost, I am.”
• “‘I’m from up north. Watch closely and I’ll show you how to drive in snow and ice.”
• “You might want to stay back even further, as I constantly ride my brakes.”
• “Will work for money, or whatever you might have.”
• “Proud parent of a total failure.”
• “Baby on board — make me an offer.”
• “Single and looking.”
• “Separated and looking.”
• Divorced and looking.”
• “No thanks, Just looking.”
Just remember it’s all about having fun.
After careful consideration, I feel it would probably be best to allow the current obscene gesture sign, the one that has been universally recognized for years, to remain in place for yet awhile longer as no signal, traffic or otherwise, has yet been found to be more effective.
Keith Barnes is a reporter for the Johnstonian News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.