Let’s consider the turn signal for motor vehicles. When used properly, it helps keep a safe and friendly rhythm and flow to our traffic. I once saw a bumper sticker that declared, “World peace starts with turn signals”.
How did the flashing light become the signaling convention for turns and lane changes? A “device for indicating the intended movements of vehicles” was patented in 1909. It used mechanical images of a hand that popped out, pointing left or right, or held upright to indicate stoppage. Buick introduced the blinking electric turn signal in 1938 as the “Flash-Way Directional Signal”. Signaling requirements are now standard in all motor vehicle codes.
Like other useful standards and practices, turn signals evolved along with the activity they serve. But imagine if turn signaling just started in the age of high tech electronics. Instead of the blinking light, we might have elaborate rear end displays, in custom fonts selected by the driver. “I’m thinking of turning right but I’m not sure yet” or “I’m turning left with some anxiety”. That might lead to tweets, animated ads, and the dreaded tail light blog.
But I hope that we stay with the simple blinking light. Like all practical processes, it needs to be:
- Necessary and useful.
- Reliable, easy to use, and quickly understood.
- And, oh yes—used consistently.
George M. Pomonik
Pomonik Consulting, Inc.
“Chaos Removal Services”SM
Copyright © George M. Pomonik, 2012. All rights reserved.