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You Too Can Be Signal Superhero: Reduce Incidents and Save Lives with the Power of One Finger

For those of you who do not know me too well, I am incredibly mighty and powerful. As a matter of fact, I can state unequivocally I can outperform most people simply with the use of one finger—no not that finger! I’m talking about the all-powerful index finger on my left hand.

Just to be clear, you do know that this article is related to driver safety, right? OK, then I’ll move the story along and reveal the secret of my super powers.

You see I have a hard-wired habit (this is a good one) that engages whenever I operate a vehicle. With my hands in the proper 9 o’clock and 3’ o’clock driving position, every time I plan to make a lane change or execute a turn, my index finger automatically straightens out from my grip, connects with the turn signal stalk and initiates a highly trained 10 degree movement up or down to turn on my vehicle’s signal indicator.

Through this skillfully executed one-finger power maneuver, I immediately inform drivers around me of my upcoming directional changes so they have plenty of time to safely respond to my actions. I am so proud of this ability; I do it all of the time, in all types of traffic conditions, even if there are no other motorists around me. Yes I’m a show off—even when no one is watching!

So how does this highly-tuned, power skill set me apart from other people? Studies related to behind-the-wheel safety performance show that a high percentage of drivers fail to use turn signals or, if they do, it’s usually at the last moment when it adds little safety value. On your next road trip count how many times you notice other drivers fail to use their turn signals. Don’t forget to count your misses as well. Chances are you‘ll lose count within minutes.

According to a study conducted by the Society of Automotive Engineers, motorists neglect to use their turn signals when making turns about 25 percent of the time. Add to this, they also fail to use their turn signals when changing lanes and /or fail to turn their signals off. This works out to about 48 percent of drivers failing to use their signals appropriately, or in other words, an astounding 750 billion times a year, resulting in approximately two million roadway collisions. That’s more than double the 950,000 incidents linked to distracted driving! Now you understand, by faithfully moving a single finger, how I can claim to outperform most people.

To the EHS and Fleet professionals reading this, do you want to do something important? Something powerful, that will save lives and reduce your crash rates? Turn on the turn signal message for your drivers, and all of your employees for that matter. Think about it—one of the most easily instituted safe driving techniques (moving an index finger up or down 10 degrees) is a fresh message that you can deliver to your drivers. While it’s an age old and growing problem, most fleet operators spend little to no time communicating this safety fix. Now you have something “new” to talk about. And make sure you do it on a regular basis. Over time, you should see a meaningful drop in your fleet’s crash rates if you do.

And to all drivers who want to become as powerful as me, perhaps even mightier. Maintain awareness of your planned movements through traffic and signal your intentions early—every single time until this become a hard-wire safety habit. Use the all-powerful index finger for good—to keep you safe. Don’t let others use their index fingers to point at you when you are stuck roadside dealing with an unfortunate traffic incident, when proper signaling could have prevented it.

This article was written by:

Art, President, has overall responsibility for account performance improvement with a special focus on driver risk management. He has spent over 20 years helping fleets reduce and mitigate their exposure from driver generated incidents. He is a highly regarded subject matter expert and author in the area motor vehicle record (MVRs) analysis and regulatory compliance. In addition, Art has been responsible for developing several important driver risk management technologies that are now in use at a numerous fleet-based operations helping hundreds of thousands drivers improve their overall safety performance. Contact the author

- has written 21 posts on Driving Dynamics.

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