On all modern cars there is this magic little light on the left and right side of the dash that flashes and indicates your intentions. It is called a direction indicator, or turn signal or simply a “blinker” and the first car to have one was way back in 1909 (so chances are very good that there is one in your car). The first patent for a turn indicator was in 1907 by Percy Douglas-Hamilton, who patented a set of hands, one attached to each side of the car, which could be illuminated to indicate a coming turn. Percy’s design is reported to have been used on an automobile.
In 1914, actress Florence Lawrence invented a mechanical signaling arm that was attached to the rear bumper of a vehicle. When a button was pushed, the arm would raise or lower a flag to indicate direction of movement. Sadly, Florence never patented her idea so she never received any profit from it.
It wasn’t until 1939 when Buick introduced the “Flash-Way Directional Signal” and the modern turn signal was invented. A year later and a major improvement was made to the Buick device, which added lights to the front of the vehicle and a self-cancelling mechanism. Over the next few years, companies like Cadillac, LaSalle and Hudson all offered similar options on their automobiles.
The “blinker” was still an option in most automobiles until the late 1960’s when they became mandatory.
Yet, some 50 years later, many drivers refuse to use it. We are talking half a century, which means an overwhelming majority of drivers on the roads have always had turn indicators in the vehicles they have driven, yet again, they refuse to use them.
I know what you are thinking, as the person behind the wheel, they don’t do you any good, right! What would you think if I told you that they aren’t for you, they are to communicate with the drivers around you. They tell the other drivers what you are planning on doing, like changing lanes or turning.
So for the love of all things in the world, please just use the damn things.
Thank you to TikTok user James DuhStudent Williams for this video.