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  1. #1
    Senior Member brianinc-ville's Avatar
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    Insight into the mind of the clueless motorist

    Usually, when you're riding a bike and somebody in a car does something mystifying on the road nearby, you don't get a chance to follow up and ask what the heck just happened. But I had an exception the other day, and it's pretty interesting.

    So, I was arriving at a co-worker's house for a party, and as I approached the driveway I signaled a right turn (using the straight-right-arm signal). In the oncoming lane a car was approaching, signaling left to turn into the same driveway. I looked the guy in the eye. Everything seemed cool. Since A) I was there first, and B) left-turning traffic is supposed to yield, I went ahead and started my turn...and the guy in the car started his. We both slammed on the brakes. No harm done, but a little disconcerting anyway, since I had clearly signaled what I was about to do, right?

    Once we got to the house, I asked the guy (in a friendly way) what happened. He said: "I thought you were telling me to go ahead and turn."

    So, there you have it: when you signal, don't assume that people understand that you're signaling your own intention. Live and learn.

  2. #2
    Senior Member DIFFO's Avatar
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    Lol. Sounds like he / she just another impatient driver. No one can be that stupid can they ?

    As he ended up at the same place as you he gave a excellant answer lol. He / she not that dumb .
    Last edited by DIFFO; 10-25-11 at 10:47 PM. Reason: typo
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    Of course you were signaling to him that he should go first. The fact that you were on a bike is all the signal he needed.

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    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    I wondered if motorists considered a straight right arm signal as telling them to proceed first. Seems to be a problem for me at this one particular intersection where motorists constantly left hook me, while I'm in the RTOL and signaling with my right arm fully extended outward.

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    Senior Member DIFFO's Avatar
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    Arm straight out for indication in England means your giving the motorists the finger apparently where I come from
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  6. #6
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    Might be an honest answer. If you'd given a proper (left arm at 90 degrees) hand signal, he may have not made the mistake. Just remember, though, this advice comes from someone who rarely signals (myself) unless mitigating some possibly confusing situation.
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  7. #7
    LBKA punkncat's Avatar
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    I also use the same signals I was taught in drivers ed. Left arm is for all signalling.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianinc-ville View Post
    Usually, when you're riding a bike and somebody in a car does something mystifying on the road nearby, you don't get a chance to follow up and ask what the heck just happened. But I had an exception the other day, and it's pretty interesting.

    So, I was arriving at a co-worker's house for a party, and as I approached the driveway I signaled a right turn (using the straight-right-arm signal). In the oncoming lane a car was approaching, signaling left to turn into the same driveway. I looked the guy in the eye. Everything seemed cool. Since A) I was there first, and B) left-turning traffic is supposed to yield, I went ahead and started my turn...and the guy in the car started his. We both slammed on the brakes. No harm done, but a little disconcerting anyway, since I had clearly signaled what I was about to do, right?

    Once we got to the house, I asked the guy (in a friendly way) what happened. He said: "I thought you were telling me to go ahead and turn."

    So, there you have it: when you signal, don't assume that people understand that you're signaling your own intention. Live and learn.
    That's part of why I prefer the "old school" signal for a right turn, i.e. bending the left arm upwards at a 90-degree angle.

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  9. #9
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
    That's part of why I prefer the "old school" signal for a right turn, i.e. bending the left arm upwards at a 90-degree angle.

    right.jpg
    I used that for years, motorists didn't have a clue what it meant(nor the slowing down sign).... now i just point where i'm going - even a dog can understand that. I've had much more success with it.

    OP's problem has todo with stupid driver who probably figured he could beat him to the turn.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by electrik View Post
    I used that for years, motorists didn't have a clue what it meant(nor the slowing down sign).... now i just point where i'm going - even a dog can understand that. I've had much more success with it.

    OP's problem has todo with stupid driver who probably figured he could beat him to the turn.
    I've only had one driver not understand what I was signalling, and that happened this past weekend. He thought that I was indicating that I wanted him to pull over so we could talk. As for all of the rest of the drivers that I encounter on my daily ride(s) given that we haven't had any close calls and they usually allow me to make my turn before they turn I can only presume that they know what I was trying to indicate.
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  11. #11
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    As a motorist, I'm letting the cyclist go first regardless. I understand what effort it takes to stop and restart a bicycle as a human powered engine vs what the machine I'm driving can do with the lazy effort of brake and accelerator pedal.

    As a cyclist, I'm going to point and wave a motorist if I decide to let them go first on their left turn. There would be no confusion between that and offering a traditional turn signal. To be honest, it's probably why I don't signal a turn in the first place. Several reasons apply.

    First a motorist really should perceive a cyclist as a pedestrian in terms of the damage it can do to bike and body in a collision.
    Second, it's the precious time and hand that I free to release that is unable to be used to apply the brake lever to stop in an emergency situation should the confusion result in that. I'd much rather have two hands on the handle bars to hold the front wheel in place at an impact. Granted one handed or two handed is going to suck in a collision, but a slower collision, I might be able to maintain staying upright than being dumped to the ground in a situation where the collision is one where the two of us is almost completely stopped.
    Third, if the motorist has to assume I'm going straight and provided they see me, they are simply more apt to allow me to proceed first since they are turning left. And if the motorist is coming up from behind and going to try to beat me to the turn and potentially right hook me, they're going to try that regardless. Otherwise they will stay back, assume I'm going straight and make their right turn behind me, which is effectively what they should do anyway, right ?

    My goal is to be in the most control of any situation that arises, whether it works out that way or not is debatable, but from my perspective, at least I tried everything at my avail. And if I'm going to be injured or die, so be it, at least I know I did that for myself. I know others may perceive it differently, but in the original situation, the worst you can do by not signaling is piss a motorist off for not signaling. To me I'd rather that be the case than both of us getting agitated and irritated at the other for the stand off for both stopping. See in that, the cyclist confronted the motorist, had asked them and put them on the defensive to rationalize that split second. Without having signaled a right turn and the motorist would've had to have made any inquiry or remarks. Perhaps both parties being at the same party the motorist and cyclist just move on without any verbal confrontations. Meet the host, enjoy the food, beverage and entertainment ? It's no big deal for either. Enjoy each other's company and not potentially ruin the party over an argument of who was right or wrong ?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by DIFFO View Post
    Arm straight out for indication in England means your giving the motorists the finger apparently where I come from
    That actually explains something that happened to me last week.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hippiebrian View Post
    If you'd given a proper (left arm at 90 degrees) hand signal, he may have not made the mistake.
    Many (most?) states now recognize both an extended right arm and the left arm at 90 degrees as being 'proper' right-turn hand signals. My impression is that relatively few drivers these days are familiar with the bent left arm signal and it is frequently misinterpreted. It's also not that easy to give clearly when on a bike in a bent-over position.

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    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    Many (most?) states now recognize both an extended right arm and the left arm at 90 degrees as being 'proper' right-turn hand signals. My impression is that relatively few drivers these days are familiar with the bent left arm signal and it is frequently misinterpreted. It's also not that easy to give clearly when on a bike in a bent-over position.
    Not to mention that the main reason for the bent left arm signal for a right turn is so that it can be done out a car window. On a bike that limitation isn't an issue.

    I too, have had signals misinterpreted or at least ignored. On several occasions, I've had motorists pass me on the left while I was on the centerline signalling a left turn, which just strikes me as insane unless they don't understand the signal and think I'm waving them around me or something. Why pass on the side I'm signalling towards when I've already left room on the right? Fortunately, 99% of drivers aren't that dumb/aggressive.

  15. #15
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hippiebrian View Post
    If you'd given a proper (left arm at 90 degrees) hand signal, he may have not made the mistake.
    Both bent left arm and outstretched right arm are proper turning signals for a cyclist, I've used both with generally the same results, what is needed is more motorist education on cyclist hand turn signals.

    At this one particular intersection that I'm having trouble with, I'm going to not use any signal at all, and observe the results, since it is a RTOL that I'll be riding in.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
    Both bent left arm and outstretched right arm are proper turning signals for a cyclist, I've used both with generally the same results, what is needed is more motorist education on cyclist hand turn signals.
    Truly, what is needed is MORE MOTORIST EDUCATION -- PERIOD!

    Like, the basics....................

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    Quote Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
    Truly, what is needed is MORE MOTORIST EDUCATION -- PERIOD!

    Like, the basics....................

    (Just a rant) DRIVERS: IT'S NOT JUST STOMP THE GAS, STOMP THE BRAKE, AND GET OUT OF MY WAY IN BETWEEN.
    I think what has happened is that many/most people have begun to take driving for granted as something that "everyone" knows how to do well (or at least, THEY know how to do well). And it's simply not true, despite the amount of time many spend doing it. They may be experienced drivers, but they don't ever get feedback about the quality of their driving skills. And they're getting even less now that police budgets for traffic enforcement have plummeted in many areas.

    I think that drivers' re-licensing should require continuing education of some sort, at a minimum, and I really don't understand why there would be any real resistance to that idea. Sure, it would cost money, but traffic collisions due to the negligence of incompetent drivers cost a lot of money too (and ruin or end a lot of lives). Surely preventing many "accidents" through education would save lots of money in the end, even if it were only mildly effective. It seems like renewal standards have just been quietly dropped in many places with little debate over potential downsides, often as a "cost savings" measure (e.g., I can now renew my drivers' license by mail or the Internet, so no one will ever check whether my vision has degraded). I question whether these "costs savings" are really there, in the long run. I know I would gladly pay more up front for a drivers' license renewal/retraining if it meant that everyone else was also going through that retraining, but then again I like to think that I'm a rational person who accepts my own fallibility. Do most people truly believe that they are perfect drivers?

  18. #18
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by electrik View Post
    I used that for years, motorists didn't have a clue what it meant(nor the slowing down sign).... now i just point where i'm going - even a dog can understand that. ...
    Wrong. Point and a dog thinks you want it to go there or there is something of interest there, not that that's where you're going. That's the general interpretation of pointing. Conventional hand signals with palm flat and fingers extended together are designed to be distinct from pointing and indicate your intention to go in that direction, rather than pointing out something of interest or directing somebody else to go there.

  19. #19
    Senior Member brianinc-ville's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    Wrong. Point and a dog thinks you want it to go there or there is something of interest there, not that that's where you're going. That's the general interpretation of pointing. Conventional hand signals with palm flat and fingers extended together are designed to be distinct from pointing and indicate your intention to go in that direction, rather than pointing out something of interest or directing somebody else to go there.
    Good, erm, point. I can't actually remember whether I had my fingers flat or pointing -- but I will definitely stick to fingers flat from now on. As for the bent-left-arm signal: I've generally found that most drivers today have no idea what it means. Both varieties of right turn signal are legal in my state, FWIW.

  20. #20
    Senior Member brianinc-ville's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fuji86 View Post
    See in that, the cyclist confronted the motorist, had asked them and put them on the defensive to rationalize that split second. Without having signaled a right turn and the motorist would've had to have made any inquiry or remarks. Perhaps both parties being at the same party the motorist and cyclist just move on without any verbal confrontations. Meet the host, enjoy the food, beverage and entertainment ? It's no big deal for either. Enjoy each other's company and not potentially ruin the party over an argument of who was right or wrong ?
    Nobody got agitated or irritated, bro. I just asked him (husband of a co-worker, and a good guy) what happened, he told me, and we went off to grab some beers. Exchange of information, only, and he was genuinely happy to learn what the signals mean.

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    I think that even if people don't know the bent left arm to signal right they at least recognize it as a sign, and it is definitely harder to misinterpret than the right hand pointing.

  22. #22
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fastbartender View Post
    I think that even if people don't know the bent left arm to signal right they at least recognize it as a sign, and it is definitely harder to misinterpret than the right hand pointing.
    Some people think it is just you waving hello. Those hand signals are soon forgotten by the driving public.

  23. #23
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    Many (most?) states now recognize both an extended right arm and the left arm at 90 degrees as being 'proper' right-turn hand signals. My impression is that relatively few drivers these days are familiar with the bent left arm signal and it is frequently misinterpreted. It's also not that easy to give clearly when on a bike in a bent-over position.
    Regardless of knowledge, unless a driver is also a cyclist, they could care less about any knowledge of what hand signals meant.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Nitram612's Avatar
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    Hand signals can be hit or miss with motorists. Some understand them, most do not. Often when I signal a left turn and there is oncoming traffic, people slam on their brakes and shut down as if a left turn signal means "I am going to turn left in front of you." It is frustrating when you are just trying to signal your intention and it ends up confusing people and making things worse.

  25. #25
    The Rock Cycle eofelis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mnemia View Post
    It seems like renewal standards have just been quietly dropped in many places with little debate over potential downsides, often as a "cost savings" measure (e.g., I can now renew my drivers' license by mail or the Internet, so no one will ever check whether my vision has degraded). I question whether these "costs savings" are really there, in the long run. I know I would gladly pay more up front for a drivers' license renewal/retraining if it meant that everyone else was also going through that retraining, but then again I like to think that I'm a rational person who accepts my own fallibility. Do most people truly believe that they are perfect drivers?
    I have a 10 year drivers license here in Colorado. It's up for renewal next year. I have been wondering what the renewal process would be like.

    I recently found out.

    A friend of mine, an avid cyclist, just renewed his 10 year license. He said he was quite disturbed that he could just go online, verify his address and payment information and renew his drivers licence, just like that. He didn't have to prove anything about his driving skills or knowledge. They even used the same ID picture from his 10 year old license.
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