Archive for Wednesday, January 20, 1999

USE OF TURN SIGNALS ON THE BLINK

January 20, 1999

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Not using your turn signals is "evil," a Lawrence police sergeant says.

Driving is how Billie Beerbower earns his keep, so when other motorists slack off using their turn signals, it irks him.

"It's very frustrating, especially when you put your license on the line every day," Beerbower said Tuesday at a gas station while filling up the cab he drives for Lawrence Taxi Service.

Beerbower estimates only 40 percent of drivers use their turn signals, which come standard on every car and truck but sometimes are regarded as optional equipment.

In 1997, failure to use a turn signal or the improper use of a turn signal contributed to 244 of 76,642 accidents statewide, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Sgt. George Wheeler of the Lawrence police department said police rarely ticket people solely for failing to use the blinkers on their vehicles; tickets for the infraction usually are given only when the driver is involved in an accident.

"You know, actually, no, we don't ticket for it that much, but it's evil," Wheeler said. "(Signaling) allows other motorists to know what your intentions are. It's a safety issue."

Wheeler noted that drivers are supposed to activate their signals for lane changes, too.

"If you move from lane to lane without signaling, you're likely to be involved in an accident," he said.

In his experience, Wheeler would say most drivers don't use turn signals. Looking up the state statutes regarding their use, Wheeler uttered "wow" when he read that people are supposed to signal 500 feet before turning.

An unscientific study Tuesday afternoon in Lawrence determined people most often use their signals on busy, fast-paced streets.

All of the 51 people who turned off Sixth Street onto Tennessee Street from 1:48 p.m. to 1:58 p.m. Tuesday used their signals, though few did so within the required 500 feet.

The results were more mixed at 11th and New Hampshire streets. Of the 42 people who turned onto New Hampshire from 11th Street from 2:04 p.m. to 2:14 p.m., 36 used their signals.

From 2:45 p.m. to 2:55 p.m. at the corner of 19th and New Hampshire, 20 people used their turn signals while turning onto New Hampshire, but four didn't.

Fewer people seemed to use their signals on roads that were less busy, particularly in strictly residential areas. A driver turning onto 21st Street from Owens Lane skipped signaling, as did a driver turning from Ousdahl Road onto 21st Street.

At turn lanes, many people didn't signal Tuesday afternoon, probably assuming other motorists would know their intentions.

From 3:45 p.m. to 3:50 p.m., 20 drivers traveling east and west on Seventh Street signaled before turning onto Tennessee Street, but 13 did not.

Lawrence resident Vicki Friel said she always signals.

"It's frustrating when people make turns and they don't signal and you can't guess what they're doing," Friel said.

She estimated two-thirds of fellow motorists signal. The biggest problem, she said, is people fail to do it when changing lanes.

It annoys Kansas University junior Jennifer Biehler when people blow off their blinkers.

"You wait for them to see what they're doing, and then they slow down and turn, and you could have gone," Biehler said, voicing her biggest gripe.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

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