Thursday, October 26, 2006


Why don't drivers in the Emirates use their turn signals? My pet theory is that if I use my indicators, this will tell other road users what I intend to do. Therefore the movement of my car will become predictable.

And this destroys my tactical advantage.

I have more than once been advised NOT to indicate, "because this confuses everyone else." Certainly signalling left and turning right would confuse everyone, even a lobotomised cockroach (Thank you, Prometheus, who appears to be an illeist), but so many years of driving has made using indicators an ingrained habit that has proved impossible for me to break.

I am indebted to today's Gulf News for this item. It seems that the police at least are on my side. Presumably, because it's impossible to indicate when the four-way hazard flashers are on, anyone who changes lane in foggy weather is going to get busted.

The inappropriate use of hazard flashers is a bugbear of mine. Please: not when moving in fog! That is when low beam headlights are appropriate, and foglights front and rear too, if fitted. Neither do hazard flashers mean, "I'm double parked and blocking the road, but that's OK because the winkers are on." A dashboard switch that made the car the width of a bicycle might be good, but the hazard flashers make a poor substitute.

I do think using hazards when approaching or stopped at the back of a queue of stationary traffic is a good idea. So is the automatic switch that makes all the rear lights flash like a fairground ride on Prozac after a substantial impact. Anything that helps prevent a rear-end shunt seems like a good idea to me. I used to have a Land Rover that did the flashing light thing every time I drove over the crest of a sand dune and came down with a bit of a thud. The car needed to be completely switched off in order to reset the system. Flashing lights; Disco. How appropriate.

But back to the Gulf news article. The penultimate paragraph includes the gem:
"...but when they get the licence, they forget the rules, which can save their lives and those of others.”

At the risk of my appearing to be a punctuation Nazi, observe how the comma completely reverses what I hope Brigadier Al Zafein probably meant. Despite what Microsoft Word's grammar checker may suggest, which does not always have to be preceded by a comma! (I have chosen not to comment on licence rather than licences.)

Lynne Truss' book provides invaluable assistance in the zero tolerance approach to punctuation.


Taunted said...

I think you spelt the title wrong!!

And I had a rant about the use of fog lights (you know those yellow flashy thingies) a little while back.

Something must have got your goat Mr G!!

Islamic ChoCoHoLic said...

*taking notes...

so when u go right u signal right :P

i feel enlightened... bless you wise one... :P

El Casareño Ingles said...

You'll know from my regular posts on this theme that I had to chip in with the Spanish angle.

Please don't tell the Spanish about disco lights, they'll all want them!

My neighbours are certainly better than the Portuguese and the expats at using them. For the Portuguese I guess it's not macho if you use them. For the expats it's probably a case of they've just found the junction they wanted at the third attempt, and don't have time to signal before turning as violently as they can.

The Spanish meaning of indicators is normally "I see you in my rear view mirror about to overtake me, but I'm going to piss you off anyway by overtaking this truck I've been following for the last 2km".


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