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Traffic Fury: The Indicators

When the driving test was first introduced in 1935, drivers were required to indicate their intentions by means of hand signals (that’s the government approved official ones by the way, not the varied selection of unofficial and highly demonstrative ones). Whatever the weather the window had to be wound down so an arm could be extended and flapped about in the designated manner. The ability to correctly use these signals was a requirement of the driving test, right up to 1975, despite the much earlier introduction of the ‘The Trafficator’.

The First Indicators

Mostly located in the central ‘B’ door pillar, trafficators were semaphore signals which, when operated, protruded from the bodywork of a the car to indicate its intention to turn in the direction indicated by the pointing signal. Although illuminated by a tiny bulb, they were hard to see, especially in bad weather, although they did bring a lot of joy to young children; it was, if you like, one of the first outwardly visible signs of automotive technology.

Time passes and by the 1960’s most cars had basic front and rear indicators as we know them today and drivers used them and loved them because it finally meant an end to living with a perpetually wet sleeve. Little did we know in those innocent days of yore how we would come to use them today.

The Parking Indicators

One of the safety benefits that was quickly added to cars was the function of emergency indicators for roadside breakdowns. Essentially, a button or switch illuminated all the indicators around the car simultaneously to warn other road users that a car was stranded, possibly in a dangerous position that required care by other road users. Sensible and effective.

There seems to be a lot of stranded cars these days, doesn’t there? There was me thinking how much more reliable vehicles are these day too. Just goes to show. Mostly we would see breakdowns steaming away in remote country lay-bys and the like but, funnily enough, in our modern motoring world many problems seem to ensue right outside newsagents, schools and corner shops. Often, unlike a blown old-school thermostat for example, there is rarely any visible evidence of what ails the stricken vehicle. It’s all very strange. Even Driving School proprietors think so.

The Doing It Now Indicators

A car’s indicators do indeed signal a driver’s intentions. The problem stems from that intention being immediately concurrent with the act of signalling.

I have come to understand that, in the case of lane-changing for example, the sudden illumination of a flashing yellow light means that the driver intends to pull right out across my bows without further recourse to his or her mirrors (Ah, mirrors; but that’s a fury for another day). Why the hell should they? They have indicated and thus any ensuing consternation or alarm or avoiding action is entirely my problem.

Of course, when we do experience this sort of bad driving we could always hold our ground and refuse to be bullied. It doesn’t work because these drivers are either not checking their mirrors or, basically, they don’t give a monkey’s. If a shunt occurs they will indignantly say to the investigating officer – if you can find one – ‘but I had my indicator on’.

Indicators Of A Driving Standard Decline

There’s a lot of it about. Incorrect use of indicators or indeed the total absence of indicator use are an increasing problem which highlights once again a serious decline in driving standards.Yes, I know I bang on about this a lot.

There are many of us who do care about our driving and try to do so in a courteous and careful manner. We should go on doing that. Any driver who wants to pull out and indicates that desire and then waits will be cheerfully waved over. Sadly, there are an increasing number of drivers who fail to remember the advice from way back when cars had trafficators or drivers had damp sleeves and that was to ‘indicate in good time’. Mind you, it might not always be possible to be fair; they could be on the phone. Geoff Maxted

One thought on “Traffic Fury: The Indicators

  1. Bryan Greenall

    Ahhhh the bane of my teaching life is the indicator problem from other motorists as I go about my daily driving lessons. This is to a point where I wrote a blog post on my website on this about signalling and the lack of it. A nice post which is not seen very often.

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