Published July 24, 2022

Upside Down Under: Driver's Ed Teaches You This...

Written by
Marvin Baker
| The Dakotan
Marvin Baker
Marvin Baker

MINOT -- I was driving down a city street minding my own business when I came upon a semi-trailer in the right lane of traffic. I didn’t see a blinker so I assumed he was turning right since he was in the right lane and what not. 

With that in mind, I pulled up next to him in the left lane. All of a sudden this knucklehead decides to turn left before I could dart out of the way. I couldn’t back up because there were vehicles right behind me wanting to turn left. As a result, the right side of my vehicle got seriously banged up. 

The bumper was bent forward, the right front door was crushed, the right front fender was crushed, and the right front window shattered sending pieces of glass all over the seat. A kangaroo guard on the front was also damaged. He moved forward about 6 feet and, about the time I felt the vehicle start to tip, he stopped. 

I wasn’t injured and neither was the semi driver, so that makes the situation more tolerable. Unfortunately, he said he didn’t see me in the lane. He didn’t see that big, black Ford F-150 with clearance lights. Hmmm! Isn’t that what those big mirrors are for on a semi? 

The guy told me he had his blinker on but speculated the wiring got wet and didn’t function. He said he had just washed his semi and it was dripping wet. 

However, this guy did admit fault to myself, to the police, and to his insurance company. That made things even more tolerable. Now, I’m dealing with his insurance company to get a settlement. 

I bring this situation up because all too often motorists are not using their blinkers and it can be a disaster waiting to happen, as was my case last Wednesday night. 

He’s in the right-hand lane and his blinker isn’t on or isn’t functioning. As another motorist, am I supposed to assume that this guy is going to turn left from the right lane? 

Do you ever run into a circumstance like this? I see it a lot in places like Minot, Bismarck, Williston and Jamestown. Out in the country, people are generally pretty good. But it seems like there’s a high percentage of urban drivers who don’t use their blinkers. 

Several years ago I would go to visit my niece in Jamestown and I would tease her that, “I’m in Jamestown now and I don’t need to use blinkers because nobody else does.” Apparently that caught on because now it seems to be all over the place. 

They may have forgotten, maybe they drive an old, beat up Dodge and the blinker doesn’t work, maybe they just don’t care or maybe they’re texting on their smart phone and are too busy to activate the blinker. 

This has become so commonplace that when I pull up to an intersection and the person behind me doesn’t have their blinker on, I’ll shut mine off and 100 percent of the time, they will use their blinker at the next intersection. 

What tops the list for me, however, is when I’m waiting to turn and merge into highway traffic. Someone is coming toward my left side and there is no blinker. You have to think they are going through the intersection and proceeding on. Oh No! These drivers will make you wait until they turn because you don’t know if they’re going to turn or not. Are you supposed to make that assumption? Either you wait or you could get hit. 

Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to research Highway Patrol statistics to see how many times accidents occur when blinkers aren’t used. It would be interesting to find out. 

In my case, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and there was nothing I could do except watch the impact and listen to metal crunching and glass shattering. It was low speed so even if there were injuries, they wouldn’t have been severe. But my goodness, the guy could have saved a nasty increase on his insurance premium had he just used his blinker. 

All kidding aside, I’m always going to use my blinker when I approach an intersection. I don’t want somebody to have to assume what my next move is. This isn’t a chess match, it’s basic rules of driving. 

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