February 8, 2008 - Left Turn Signal
Ed was in a hurry when he gave the dedicated staff of edhat.com our counting assignment for Thursday. He had been up all night on Super Tuesday counting rhetoric, and red and blue ties. So, when he told us to count the percent of people using turn signals while turning left in left turn lanes, he totally ignored the fact that all left turn lanes are not created equal. Like mom and dad, some are protective and some are permissive. Protected lanes allow drivers to pass through the intersection without a care in the world. All the other cars whose intersection activity could get in the way are stopped. Permissive lanes are opposite. No one stops, so drivers actually have to pay attention.
In protected situations, there really is no reason to signal at all. Cars behind you know that you are turning, and cars in front of you are not moving. But, our on-the-street survey found that 47% of all drivers signaled their intentions. In permissive situations, we found that the same number turned on their blinkers without cause for delay, and the other 53% didn't. But, when it was green lights, camera, action, an additional 32% turned on their signals to alert the cars in back of them that there is a reason they were not moving, and - more importantly - the cars going the other direction, so they could plan accordingly.
Twenty one percent of all drivers turned without signaling. We are sure that none of those people subscribe to Edhat.
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