Good morning, class. For today’s lesson, we will discuss a basic component of automotive engineering that most people don’t even know is there. It’s called a “turn signal” and is standard equipment in all modern vehicles, both foreign and domestic. The rare and wonderful people who have taken to using this technology lovingly refer to the device as “blinkers.”

Locating your own “blinkers” is simple. You will find the turn signal lever to the left of your steering wheel, roughly at the 9 o’clock position (see diagram). The lever extends roughly 6 inches from the steering column and is easily accessible to the fingers of the left hand. Recent medical reports have shown that reaching the turn signal lever requires the use of no more than two muscles of the hand and only six ounces of force are needed to move the lever up (to indicate a right turn) or down (to indicate a turn in the opposite direction, which is left.)

The use of the turn signal requires less than half the effort required to scratch an itch, yet a recent survey (see chart) shows that only one in five Americans opts to use this important safety device. Given reasons for this include:

“What the heck is a blinker?”

“I need my left hand for sending text messages.”

“I don’t make turns in my vehicle.”

“Get away from me with that clipboard or I will kill you.”

The results of the survey are shocking: Recent reports have revealed (there are no diagrams or charts or reports, fool; stop looking for them) that the turn signal is among the most important safety devices to be found in or on any automobile. Proper use of your turn signal alerts other drivers that you will soon be changing directions. This allows those drivers to react accordingly and to avoid slamming into the side of your vehicle with their own. It also helps them avoid the dangerous blood pressure spikes that come with intense road rage.

As you drive, you may have heard the voices of other drivers trying to advise you on the proper use of turn signals. That helpful advice may include the instructional: “Use ya #@!&%$ blinkah (sic), ya #@!^% $#[email protected]#!bag!” The inquisitive: “You got blinkers on that thing, or what?” Or an earnest suggestion that the offending driver seek further education: “Learn how to use your blinkers, $#[email protected]!”

This brings us to an important point. According to our survey (see parenthetical remarks on survey above), the people who avoid using their turn signals cover a broad swath of humanity. Older folks may neglect to signal a turn because they are not familiar with the technology, which they describe as “new-fangled.” Working people may avoid the use of signals because they are trying to shave, put on makeup, file taxes or send lurid text messages to their mistresses. Young people may fail to signal turns because young people just plain suck.

Intelligence does not typically play a role. During my work on this important study, I found myself driving behind a vehicle bearing a bumper sticker that declared that the driver was an “Honor Roll Student.” This implies that said driver is of high intelligence, yet over the course of four miles, that driver failed to signal turns no fewer than a dozen times.

The driver also drove three inches from the bumper of the car in front of him, failed to proceed after traffic lights had changed from red (stop) to green (go) and several times braked suddenly, apparently to avoid colliding with shadows. This academically accomplished driver, who probably knows the chief export of Guam and who can recite “In Flanders Field” from start to finish, nonetheless could not manage to move his turn signal lever up one half inch or down one half inch as a courtesy to other drivers. In our view, this driver should A) be prohibited from operating a motor vehicle on public roads and B) be flogged.

FUN FACT: There are no fun facts included with this report.

The scourge of non-blinking motorists imperils our safety on our nation’s highways and roads. One psychiatric expert described the offenders, in Latin-sounding medical terms, as “just plain lazy #^&[email protected] who don’t give a %^$#@! about anyone but themselves.”

We secretly followed our psychiatric expert home from work. He didn’t signal once along the way. Floggings will commence in one hour.

FUN FACT (it turns out there IS a fun fact): People who opt not to use their turn signal device have been shown to be lacking in several key areas, including virility, honesty, romantic prowess, generosity and general hygiene.

But mostly, they just plain suck.

Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. You can share your #@&% knowledge of the chief export of Guam at [email protected]


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