Berating the American blinker

March 26, 2021

This article has been a long time coming. This has pissed me off for over a year now, but something—usually new delicious foods to try—always got in the way. What is this thing that has been pissing me off for over 365 days? Cars with red blinkers. I know what you are thinking: what? Who in their right mind has at least 650 words to say about blinkers?

Listen, I have a point. Cars with red blinkers are straight up dangerous. The literal point of having a blinker (and actually using it, but that can be a separate article on its own) is to quickly warn other drivers of your intended actions. But having the blinkers the same color as the brake lights goes against that purpose. As soon as I—or any normal person—sees a yellow light on a car, they immediately know that that car is going to turn. Simple right? Well the same logic cannot be applied to red blinkers. When you see a red light on a car, you need to take a second to recognize whether the person is turning or just slowing down. Granted you should slow down in either case, but this seems like a delay in reaction that can so easily be avoided. If this occurs close to an intersection, it makes it much more difficult to tell if the person is just slowing down in front of it or about to turn—especially with American drivers almost never turning on their blinkers early enough. The worst is when the car is actually slowing down and then turns the red blinker on (which is most of the time), you literally might not have enough time to slow down if you don’t see the blinker on time. This seems like such an odd hill to die on. 

Of course, America has to be special in this (*cough* Fahrenheit *cough* imperial system). I have never seen cars with red blinkers anywhere in the world—and, as a rough estimate, I’ve been to around 30 countries, most of them, by car. It just seems so obvious that it should be a different color. In the Ukrainian rules of the road, blinkers are literally defined as orange or yellow lights. If it’s red, it’s literally not considered a blinker (and you would have to make hand gestures to indicate what you are planning to do). Like come on, car manufacturers. I’m sure it doesn’t result in accidents 90 percent of the time, but this seems like such a basic thing to not have done properly. Is it really that difficult/expensive to just get another lightbulb of a different color than your brake lights? A $20 light bulb will really not affect the price of a car that costs thousands of dollars. As an Econometrics TA, I can tell you that the amount is not statistically significant. All of Europe does it, why is this such a difficult change to make? 

If you think I am joking, a 2008 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study cars with red blinkers, as compared to cars with yellow/ orange blinkers, are “22 percent more likely to be hit from behind during a turn-signal-relevant maneuver such as turning, changing lanes or parking.” The study also concluded that changing from red to orange blinkers will reduce  rear-end collisions by 5.3 percent. Now this just makes me mad. So this has been a thing for almost 13 years, and there have been no changes made? How do people still buy these cars if you are 20 percent more likely to get in an accident? Like do you not value your own health? Or at least if you have a red blinker, turn it on earlier so others can have more time to react. For everyone’s sake. 

What self-driving cars are you talking about, America, if you can’t even get blinkers right?!

Menu Title