I love Southern Florida for many reasons, including the balmy winter weather, the beauty of flora and fauna, the ocean breezes, the friendly people, and the absence of state income tax. Among those reasons, driving will not be found. Native drivers here continue to astonish me with their apparent oblivion over simple rules of the road that are encountered in most other parts of the country, except perhaps in New York City.
I was here in Pompano Beach for several weeks last year before encountering another driver who used a turn signal. That event was a relief to me just when I was beginning to believe that using turn signals down here might actually be against the law. Strange as it may seem, I thought there could be a different rule in this part of the country…something like, “If you use your turn signal you WILL be arrested and do prison time.”
Countless times I have been cut off by other drivers, who simply assume that my psychic powers will notify me that they are changing lanes. In a moment of wild mental abandon, I also wondered if there might be clinics down here, where drivers had those tiny portions of their brains dealing with turn signals surgically removed. Standing in lines at the bank and at super markets, I’ve been looking at the backs of people’s heads for cranial scars as proof that my bizarre notion might be factual. No luck yet in detecting scars like those, despite the bald head of a shopper in front of me at Publix Super Market the other day, a head sporting tattoos of two arrows, one pointing right and the other pointing left. I groped for an interpretation but was afraid to ask what the arrows meant. Maybe he was just bisexual.
In Southern Florida there are also more licensed drivers over the age of one hundred than in any other place in the country. The other day I saw a woman driver I’m guessing was at least two hundred years old, whom I couldn’t even see until I passed her vehicle that appeared to be driving itself. She was too short to be detected except for two arms upward grasping the steering wheel. I suppose she wasn’t even able to reach the turn signal controls.
Because it is perpetually summer here, many drivers leave their car windows down and instead of using the standard turn signal lights, those motorists simply lean their left arms out the driver’s side in a lazy, casual attempt to let others know of some kind of turn. This attempt, of course is not effective, because such drivers rarely, if ever, form an “L” to show the intention to turn right or use the arm straight out to signal a left turn. It’s almost a challenge that says, “OK, everybody. I’m about to do something here with my car. See if you can guess what it is in time not to create a crash.”
I continue to use my turn signals from years of not having driven my car any other way and am pretty sure that Floridian drivers behind me see me as an anomaly or simply as someone, who has indulged in fancy accessories for my automobile. JB