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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


The biggest peeve

I covered the topic of turn signal neglect a couple of weeks ago.  The column was titled “Still annoying after all these years” — at the time I did not know exactly how annoying.  After that write-up, several readers emailed notes expressing disgust toward those signal-failers, earning that error a prominent position on the driver pet peeve list.

A straight forward message from J.O. “voiced” her irritation.  She wrote, “Great article on the lack of use of turning signals.  It’s one of biggest pet peeves.  Thanks Bill.”

And then K.J. expressed, “The part that frosts me is that as they are turning, they have the unmitigated gall to throw you a ‘what’s your problem?’ stare, as you sit there waiting to see what this idiot’s intentions are.”

Drivers overlooking the simple courtesy of advance signaling their intentions obviously strike a nerve with some drivers.  It’s especially aggravating when you make an effort to be compliant, but those who don’t seem to get away with it.  Besides that, perpetrators often seem totally oblivious to what they are or are not doing.

I believe that enforcement emphasis for this violation could be improved.  Seat belt use has reached nearly full compliance through the efforts of enforcement and education. Similarly, increased attention has been paid to driving under the influence and speeding with positive results.

Nonuse of signals may not be at the top of the list of pet peeves, but to J.O., K.J. and many others who wrote to me, it’s likely in the top three. What is the biggest driving peeve?  That answer will be different for different drivers, and there are quite a few to choose from.  Please let me know if you have “favorite.”

Continuous use of the left lane is near the top of my list.  I often hear, “It’s okay to be there if I am going the speed limit,” or “That only applies to the freeway.”  Well, it’s okay if you are going the speed limit AND you are overtaking another vehicle, OR about to turn left, OR moving left to accommodate a merge.  Absent those last three conditions, if you are on ANY road (not just freeway) with two of more lanes for travel in the same direction and you are driving in the left-hand lane, you are violating the law.

Following too closely is another contender for the top peeve spot.  Or, maybe seeing drivers on cell phones makes you see red.  Then, speaking of red, there are always drivers who fail to move when the light changes from red to green.

The list is nearly endless:  Hanging out in your blind spot, stopping in roadway, improper turns, intersection blocking, slow on freeway entrance ramp, inconsistent speed, and even leaving signals on are all contenders for peeve-list spots.

By the way, I learned something while finding an answer to J.B.’s question.  He asked, “Do the same laws apply to motorcycles?  And by that, I mean - I know that they are required to indicate intent with a signal, but specifically the right turn signal.  Are they also required to do it with the left hand “extended upward?”  I’ve never seen it done.  They most often use the right hand extended horizontally because, let’s face it – they’re not sitting on the left side of the bike.”

Yes, the law requires bicyclists and motorcyclists to employ hand/arm if using manual signals. To my surprise though, there IS a variation of the hand signal law in Washington for bicycles.  RCW 46.61.758 specifies the right hand turn signal may be made:  Left hand and arm extended upward beyond the side of the bicycle, OR right hand and arm extended horizontally to the right side of the bicycle.

Though there is no such exception on the books for motorcycles, the same logic should apply, and I suspect that few law officers would deem using the right arm to be improper.  If I were cited for using a right hand/arm signal on a motorcycle to indicate a right-hand turn, I would contest it in court on the basis that the signal is just as clear and unambiguous as it is from bicyclists.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at