Dear Car Talk
My wife thinks I should use the turn signals on my 2018 Ford Explorer Platinum every time I come to an intersection, even if there is no one else at the intersection.
I say that if there’s no one else there, I shouldn’t use them, because there are only so many blinks in any turn signal bulb, so why waste them if you don’t have to?
What do you think? Dinner is on the line here based on your expert advice. -- Michael
Start chopping onions, Michael.
We had a former customer who had the same theory about brakes. He thought he should use them only when absolutely necessary, because there are only so many “stops” in each brake pad.
His wife disagreed with him, bought a big life insurance policy on him and stopped riding with him. Now she’s living in Boca with her new boyfriend.
I’ll give you four reasons why it makes sense to use your directional signals all the time, Michael.
First, you want to make a habit of it. If you use your turn signals sometimes and not other times, it’s easy to forget and cause an accident that way.
Second, you may think there’s no one else at the intersection when you first pull up, but that changes. It takes very little time for someone else to arrive at an intersection -- from any direction -- while you’re waiting for a light. And if you’re busy arguing with your wife about another one of your crackpot theories, you might not notice, and, again, cause an accident.
Third, it’s very easy to not notice pedestrians or bicyclists, who also need to know when you intend to turn in order to navigate through the intersection or just cross the street safely.
Finally, I would guess the majority of incandescent directional bulb failures are due to vibrations from bumps and potholes over time, rather than from use. So you’re probably not even lengthening their lives with your behavior.
And, if one does fail, the bulb itself costs $5 or $10 each, if you replace it yourself. So whatever pennies per year you might be saving don’t outweigh the risk of being in a collision, which could cost you a fortune, or worse.
And if you need a fifth reason, go back and read the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, Michael, and ponder the phrase “insure domestic tranquility.”