Using turn signals could help restore civility

In the 30-plus years that I’ve Novembered in Maui, I’ve noticed a steady decline in civility that can be measured using what I call the “turn signal index,” which tracks whether or not drivers signal their intentions.

My reasoning is pretty straightforward: Using a signal is not about the driver because he knows where he is going. Turn signals are for the other guy – whether it’s another motorist, a bicyclist (like me), a scooter rider or a pedestrian.

When a driver doesn’t signal his intentions, he’s basically saying to everyone with whom he shares the road, “You don’t matter” – at least not enough to warrant flicking a finger.

Last year, a motorist pulled out from the curb without signaling. I hit his front quarter panel, went flying and was lucky to only break three ribs. My wife and I have logged more than 5,000 miles cycling on Maui, and this was our first major accident. It could have been avoided had the motorist obeyed the law and used common courtesy.

I’d be curious to learn how many citations are issued each year on Maui for failing to properly signal – my guess would be zero where not involving an accident.

As a resolution for the new year, I suggest that instead of vocalizing aloha that everyone put it to practice and tell everyone else on the road: “I care.” Who knows, being civil might once again become fashionable.

Ron Olson

Seabeck, Wash.