Turn Signal Deficit Disorder

There are three levels of stupidity:

1.  Pathetic stupidity (ongoing, seemingly endless);                                                      2.  Occasional stupidity (once in a while); and                                                               3.  Elusive stupidity (doesn’t come easily).

Most of the circumstances profiled on this blog are of level one stupers (yes, short again, for those vexatious stupid persons). Today, we’ll take a look at the other two levels of stupidity.

I am driving along behind a black Porsche, at a safe distance on a highway. The Porsche slows down and continues for several hundred yards. It almost comes to a stop. Suddenly, it turns right. What’s wrong with this picture? No turn signal was used. Why?

A. The driver was part of a government experiment in mind reading;                             B. Using a turn signal is an invasion of a motorist’s privacy;                                          C. Those little bulbs are expensive to replace and not covered by the car’s warranty; or  D. The driver was a stuper.

If anyone out there has a problem finding the correct answer to this pop quiz, please email me.

Almost every time I drive, even a few miles, I come across a clandestine turn signaler. I wait patiently for a car to go straight (isn’t that what no turn signal indicates?). Instead, the mischief-maker makes a left or right.

These motorists suffer from an increasingly common malady: Turn Signal Deficit Disorder (TSDD). The principle symptom is the inability to use the turn signal. Secondary symptoms consist of: poor concentration; distraction by irrelevant sights (i.e., mailboxes, tennis shoes hanging from a telephone line); inattention to details of driving; and impulsively making turns without exercising thought. This disorder crosses all class lines. I’ve seen everyone from Mazda to Mercedes drivers forgo the use of turn signals.

I decided to interview a person whom I believed was a fully recovered TSDD sufferer – my mother. But, alas, I drove with Mom yesterday and found it wasn’t so. Mom is definitely not a level one or even a level two person. But I must mention her here because of her brief battle with TSDD.

About 300 feet from her home, Mom needed to make a left. She did not use the turn signal. I mentioned to her that my next blog entry was about TSDD. Then a mile later, at a red stoplight, she again neglected to use her turn signal.

“Why?” I asked in disbelief. She’d been so good for so long.

“Oh, I don’t know,” she flippantly replied. “I just didn’t think about it, I guess.”

Key word: “think.” I don’t know what caused Mom’s backward slide so I patiently explained to her:

“A thinking person, like yourself, uses her signal, realizing that since we can’t actually speak to other drivers, the signal acts as an alternative means of communication. The only means. Let’s say I stepped into a bank, walked up to a teller and gave him/her the silent treatment. That is akin to not using a turn signal, don’t you think?” (Key word used again).

This silent treatment at a bank could be construed as an annoyance or misconstrued as grounds for pushing the “don’t-panic-but-we-are-being-robbed” button. Not using a turn signal could have similar consequences.

As an intelligent person, Mom recovered quickly. For the remainder of our two-hour journey, she consistently used her signal and voiced frustration when others did not. I was proud of her.

I think most TSDD sufferers are not necessarily full-time stupers. For some reason, the turn signal does not properly register in the mind as being useful or necessary. Hence, these are typically not level one stupers, though they can be.

Although I feel certain that medication is in the works for TSDD, for now there’s only one cure: Motorists must think and drive with full awareness. Is this likely to happen? No. But as each one of us thinkers focuses on his/her own driving, we sharpen our mental skills and pay less attention to the idiots-at-large. This helps us maintain a proper perspective which in turn trickles down to all aspects of our lives.

Don’t stop thinking!



6 Responses to “Turn Signal Deficit Disorder”

  1. Julianne says:

    My husband has TSDD. He also has IRSD (Inability to Read the Speedometer Disorder) and ISSWLIFEBSD (Inability to Speak to Someone Without Looking them In the Face Even if they are in the Back Seat Disorder). I have BSDD (Back Seat Driver Disorder) so it’s a real pleasure cruise to take an afternoon drive with us.

  2. Keli says:


    I believe there are support groups for the disorders you describe. IRSD and ISSWLIFEBSD Anonymous. For BSDD (which is triggered by stress), there are now over-the-counter aids, such as large (7″ in diameter) psychedelic candy suckers to serve as a distraction when confronted by the need to drive while in the passenger or back seat. Good luck!

  3. Kathy says:

    I see people driving (2 or 3 times a day) without using their signals. That makes me so mad! I am glad you told your mom to use her signal when driving. Maybe she is too old or maybe she has Alzheimers?  

  4. Keli says:

    You can’t fool me! You know my mom, don’t you? And you know she is neither too old or suffering from any sort of memory malfunction. Sometimes, she’s just a turn signal rebel.

  5. T. Stanley says:

    Funny your blog should mention people who refuse to signal. I was driving to my office and failed to use my signal to make a right turn. I was royally flipped off by the driver facing me and I smiled back because I knew I deserved it. I should have flipped myself off.

  6. jacqueline says:

    It is a terrible epidemic in my small southern town. So much so that I think horrible thoughts about them as they are driving in front of me. Good thing I don’t carry large atomic items in my car.

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