Coming home from work yesterday morning it struck me that we need a “go” signal. Something the opposite of a car horn.
For as dangerous an activity as driving is, we have very few options in the way of communicating with our fellow motorists. We have a few passive methods (turn signals, brake lights) and a few active methods (car horn, leaning out of the window and screaming obscenities), but it’s just not possible to get an idea across any more complicated than “I am turning left” or “get the heck out of my way”.
One of the more frustrating situations is when you want to tell someone “go ahead”. Say, they’re turning out of a parking lot and you want to slow down enough to let them out, but not so much that you start backing up traffic. Or someone is trying to merge onto the interstate during heavy traffic and they aren’t sure whether or not they should go ahead. Meek, timid drivers like this cause way more problems than they solve, but it’s easy to see why they’re nervous; they have no way of knowing whether the car hurtling towards them has noticed them or not.
Being overcautious is annoying, but in a lot of cases it’s required.
What we need, then, is some visual cue we can give to that person, letting them know that 1) we are aware of their position and 2) they should drive out in front of us. We already sort of have an unspoken version of this, the so-called “hand wave”, but that’s imperfect. It can’t be seen in darkness or at a great distance. At a glance it might be mistaken for the dreaded middle finger. And it’s not standardized.
What I’m envisioning is a brief, easily-visible signal that can be seen at a distance. Something you can activate as easily as a turn signal, and will immediately convey the message of “it’s okay for you to go”. If you’re in a position to want to use this signal chances are the person you want to see it is already watching your car intently. It seems like it could help clear up a lot of parking lot and bottleneck issues.
Or maybe it would kill a million people and all my ideas are horrible. There’s always that.