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The turn signal was a great invention, its a shame too many people don’t use it. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The turn signal was a great invention, its a shame too many people don’t use it. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Rules of the Road

A shocking solution for failing to signal Add to ...

If necessity is indeed the mother of invention, then frustration must be its father. Or at least, its brother-in-law.

I came to this conclusion after a typical hair-tearing day on the roads sparked an inspiration that could revolutionize driving habits and reduce in-car obscenities by half.

But before I give the details on a device that will make self-parking cars look like horse-drawn buggies, I should explain what inspired me.

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I was driving home from my monthly visit to my chiropractor – it’s cheaper than flying to Lourdes – when I found myself once again questioning the sanity of those with whom I was sharing the roads.

What triggered these particular thoughts was the number of drivers who apparently had no idea where their turn indicators were located.

I was attempting to make a right turn on to a busy four-lane road, a task that can range from child’s play at the best of times to suicidal at the worst. As car after car whizzed by, leaving me wondering if I would ever see home and my loved ones again, one began imperceptibly slowing down.

Was there a medical emergency? Was the driver slowing to avoid hitting squirrels that might live in roadside trees? Either way, I couldn't risk pulling out – unless he or she was slowing to make a turn.

That couldn't be possible, I deduced, since no signal light was blinking.

Much to my surprise, the car did indeed turn in front of me signal-free, depriving me of a rare opening to make my own turn – an opportunity that I might not get for several days by the looks of it.

I immediately launched into one of those behind-closed-car-door tirades that included comments on the driver’s ancestry and intelligence along with sub-references to personal hygiene and the size of his nose.

But what really sent my blood pressure soaring to stroke levels was the thought of how completely inconsiderate the driver had been.

Had he simply flicked his wrist, I would have made my turn and got home in time to work on things like balancing my cheque book or finding Jimmy Hoffa. Instead, I was stuck there with nothing more to do than take my tirade to the next level.

As I continued cursing him and the legions who continued torturing me by slipping into the few gaps in the right-hand lane without signals, it struck me that there could be another explanation for this crime against humanity.

Maybe I was being unfair. Surely not every one of those drivers was a victim of some failed in-breeding experiment.

Was it possible that instead of being insensitive boors fit only for extinction, they were being tailed by kidnappers or mobsters? After all, when the people in the car behind you resemble the cast of The Sopranos, you don’t want to tip them off to your next move by signalling a turn.

Or maybe they were all well-meaning but wrong-headed environmentalists who abstained from using signals in the misguided belief that they’re saving electricity and that every time they don’t signal a tree grows in the Amazon.

Another possibility is that they simply forgot, the way you might, say, forget to put on your underwear or go to work.

The more I contemplated those possibilities, the more I realized none was valid. The sad truth is that it’s nothing more than the kind of self-centred, irresponsible behaviour you might expect from a spoiled child or Rob Ford.

That’s when inspiration struck me.

We could put an end to this aggravation instantly with a simple form of aversion therapy: an electrical current installed in the driver’s seat that would be released whenever the driver makes a move without signalling. It needn’t be lethal, just somewhere between sending a message and third-degree burns.

Not only would it lead to a decrease in frustration and fewer accidents, but the sight of an offender’s hair standing on end would head off a lot of those in-car tirades – and possibly strokes.

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at globedrive@globeandmail.com.

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