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Why does no one use their turn signals in Palo Alto?

Original post made by Palo Parent, Greenmeadow, on Aug 28, 2010

There is not a day that goes by that I wait at a stop sign for someone to drive by when at the last second, they jam on their brakes and turn into the street that I am trying to turn from. Had they used their turn signals I could have pulled out and been on my way but nooooo . . . they look right at you as they turn with a glazed look on their faces. Don't these drivers realize that they need to use their signals when their actions might affect others around them?

Or as I am driving along a street with no cross streets or business driveways that would warrant my expectation of a change in direction when all of a sudden, no warning, no signal, they slam on the brakes and pull into a driveway or stop in the lane and start looking for an address without signaling or even pulling over. Wouldn't it be safer for all to signal your intentions with use of your turn signals?

Even better yet, at Charleston crossing Fabian, drivers gun it to get the jump on you before the road merges down to one lane, then . . . wait for it . . . at the last second they cram on the brakes and turn right at Louis Road without their turn signals being used. Did they really have to get in front of you just to cause you to slam on your brakes 50 feet later? Where is common sense or even common courtesy these days?

OK, I feel better now and hey you kids get off of my lawn!

PS: Saved one: behind a car in the left lane at a red light on a road with at least two lanes in each direction and with no dedicated left turn lanes. The light turns green, the can in front of you then decides to wait there to turn left, how convenient.

Comments (28)

Posted by Palo Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 28, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Correction: There is not a day that goes by that I DON'T wait . . .

Posted by Great Idea
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Great Idea!! We can all use this to rant about whatever bad habit other drivers, or pedestrians, or bike riders, do to annoy us. Then we can all feel better and everyone else can have a good laugh!

Better than road rage.

Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2010 at 11:18 pm

My guess is that you haven't been here long..... There is nothing that everyone doesn't already know in your post.

In reality, road behaviour by motorists, cyclists and pedestrians is just the tip of the iceberg. The real problem is the total lack of respect shown in all public behaviour.

Posted by Live with it!!
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 29, 2010 at 8:13 am

Where were you when we were fighting to save the four lanes on East Charleston? Sorry, the bicycle lobby won again, and they got their bike lane on Charleston. One lane = traffic jam = Joe Kott's idea!!!

Posted by ZenDriver
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2010 at 10:22 am

Oh I feel your pain! I just say "oh look, another self-absorbed driver" and do some deep yoga breathing. What else can you do? It's the style of the driving around here.

Posted by Is this a joke
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 29, 2010 at 11:26 am

Is this a post really a joke... Greenmeadow neighborhood folks usually are quite serious about what they say...

Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Every place has their driving habits. When I lived in Dorchester (part of Boston for the non-East Coast folks), it was standard practice for locals driving on the main drag to stop suddenly at any intersection where a car was waiting to enter and to wave them in. It caused countless near-accidents and frustration, but it was the local way. Don't get me started about Boston rotaries!

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Hey, I make that left turn every day about that time. When are you gonna learn!

Posted by not a joke
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2010 at 10:15 pm

I sympathize with you. I have lived in Palo Alto for a long time and I can't believe people's driving habits around here. As a matter of fact, it's been a slow decline that really started, in my opinion, in the mid to late nineteens at the time of the Internet boom.

This lack of concern for one's fellow drivers is, I think, part of a larger trend in this town of people being concerned only about themselves. It seems they think that, since they can afford to live here, they must be god's gift to the world and are worth more than anybody else, including all their fellow Palo Altans. That's the impression I get.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of nice courteous people in Palo Alto. Unfortunately, there also is a large enough number of rude, self-centered individuals to make life obnoxious for all of us, at times, around here.

Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 30, 2010 at 7:24 am

I second a previous poster. PA used to be a town where drivers signaled to show their intentions, came to a complete stop at intersections and didn't run red lights. I noticed the change in the late 90s which coincided with the boom and the significant influx of people from other parts of the country and world. Now I see drivers pull outrageously illegal and potentially deadly maneuvers on a daily basis and it doesn't even shock me anymore. A friend summed it up perfectly the other day when saying that with the way people drive in Palo Alto he didn't expect to ever get the chance to cash in on his 401K.

Posted by Marianne
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2010 at 10:27 am

I agree with some of these observations. I believe it is due to a lack of civility, and it is along the same line of why people jaywalk in downtown Palo Alto so often. I miss the days that the police would give tickets for jaywalking. People endanger themselves and the drivers.

Posted by Share the road safely
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 30, 2010 at 10:51 am

I observe plenty of road users who are considerate of others and some who are not. I don't see that it's different here than in other places. Drive the speed limit, watch for others, follow the rules and be mindful of others with whom you share the road. Model the good citizenship you say you want to see. We can't change the behavior of others, but we can contribute by behaving like good citizens ourselves.

Very improtant: get OFF your cell phone when you drive. The emerging data about cell phone use--even when it's not hand held is very compelling. Driving and talking on the cell is a dangerous practise. For your safety and for the safety of others, please pull over and stop driving when you talk on the phone.

Posted by Another Poster
a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2010 at 11:10 am

I have noticed that the Palo Alto police rarely use their turn signals.

Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2010 at 11:36 am

"Live with it!" I wish I had known about the fight to save Charleston's four lanes. What a stupid mess they created. Lots of unused asphalt in the middle and it only takes one very slow, unconscious driver to snarl up cross-town traffic and make a reasonable commute its own hell.

I often wonder if there is an intelligent decision-maker within our city. It rarely appears to be the case.

I'm totally ready for hover-crafts!

and since this is a great place to about those pedestrians in downtown Palo Alto who think nothing of crossing on red and causing drivers to miss out on their legal right to flow with their green lights? Can we spell ENTITLEMENT. I don't care if they are being green by walking, it does not exempt them from abiding by the laws of the land!

Posted by Self Absorbed Nation
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 30, 2010 at 11:36 am

Because so many people are FAR too important for such trivial details as common courtesy and compliance with the rules of the road.

All those VIPs driving around on our roads, each wrapped up with themselves and their inflated sence of self-importance. Who has time for minor details like using turn signals to alert oother drivers of your intentions when there are so many more IMPORTANT places to go and IMPORTANT things to do!

Posted by Doree
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 30, 2010 at 11:56 am

"Visualize Turn Signals" My favorite bumper sticker...

Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 30, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Another poster is correct about the PAPD not signaling their turns.
AS for Elizabeth's comments-the narrowing of Charleston is part of the "too much traffic" crowd who believe that if you cut lanes to one in each direction all the traffic will magically disappear. Unfortunately, even though the queen of too much traffic whining has left the council, there is no immediate change in plans.
They tried the stunt on Middlefield Road but it was a colossal failure.

Posted by Ed
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 30, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Papd pls read and enforce with citations.

Posted by Ptown Townie
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 30, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Grand Theft Auto Palo Alto Edition?

The problem in Palo Alto is merely part of the larger problem in the Bay Area. Many people here are atrocious drivers, lacking basic judgement and hand-eye coordination skills. In addition, the majority of folks in the region do not like each other and are self-centered as all getout. Travel 50 miles outside the Bay Area and you won't see any of this nonsense.

Walking home from the art fair the other day, I was almost run over three times in the crosswalk by oblivious drivers. Only one of them was yapping on a cell phone. There was also the pedestrian who stepped out into the crosswalk against the red light and right in front of oncoming traffic. She looked like she didn't even notice, care or realize how lucky she is to still be alive. Perhaps a large part of the problem originates outside PA? Dunno, but some tickets are definitely in order regardless.

Posted by Hyperbole Spotter!
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 30, 2010 at 1:24 pm

"No one" uses their turn signals? Sounds like a hyperbole to me. Looks like you were irritated enough to rant and then pressed the submit button too fast. There are plenty of good drivers in Palo Alto. If there weren't there would be accidents "all the time". There's another hyperbole for you. Y'all are wasting your energy on the few disengaged drivers who anger you.

PAPD needs to catch the many red light runners instead. I am guessing that a lot of those are commuters on OrEx and Embarcadero.

Posted by Ptown Townie
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 30, 2010 at 1:32 pm

@Hyperbole Spotter!, you are right that there are a lot of good drivers in Palo Alto. The problem is that there are also a lot of bad drivers. Adherence to traffic laws and safe, defensive driving is important everywhere, not only on Oregon Expressway and Embarcadero.

Posted by Live with it!!
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 30, 2010 at 1:52 pm

On the outstanding list of our City's infrastructure needs is the final stage of the Charleston/Arastradero corridor improvements; placing raised medians down the middle and planting trees!!!

I feel very sorry for those living along Arastradero and Charleston because they will not be able to back out of their driveways and go in the opposite direction.

Only our misguided Transportation Department could possibly dream up this one, but supposedly it's going to be designed with trees and other plantings to make Charleston an aesthetically pleasing entrance into the City!!!

Posted by jim
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 30, 2010 at 10:50 pm

I'm sorry to say I don't think this is a Palo Alto problem.

Everywhere I drive I see the lack of turn signals that either cause you to be stuck behind a left turner or waiting for a car to cross that suddenly turns right.

But the most amazing thing is that when drivers pull into a dedicated must turn left lane - THEN they put on left turn signals when it doesn't even matter as we all know they are turning left.

Oh and you missed one other annoying thing. Often a driver turning left uses the left signal, but the bozo in a giant blocking SUV pulls behind him. Totally blocking the view of the guy in front that is properly signaling.

Whew - that is good to get it out.

Posted by ZenDriver
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2010 at 8:53 am

How about the drivers who IGNORE others turn signals? I call them the "right lane maffia" who see you struggling to merge over but just keep speeding up and passing. (there goes my exit... Deeeeeep breath, calm thoughts).

Posted by Yale-y
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 31, 2010 at 10:07 pm

How about this one.....

High St, downtown, one way, two blocks from Whole Foods, upcoming intersection with no STOP for High St traffic. I am in left lane. Large, fancy Lexus SUV in right hand lane starts slowing, alerting me to the fact that they may not know where they are going. I drop back a bit. At the intersection this driver turns left onto the cross street, crossing my lane, turning left in front of me. I think she spied a parking space on the cross street and made a bee line for it, never looking in her side view mirror or turning to look out the driver's side window. I blasted my horn, she didn't even slow down or stop. I stopped dead - luckily no one was behind me. As she turned, my horn must have finally got her attention and she finally looked out her window but there was no register that she had done anything wrong, no "I'm sorry!" motion, no horrified hand-over-the-mouth look as she might be realizing she could have been broadsided if I was also not paying attention and actually driving the speed limit.

When one drives around here one must be alert, on the offensive and defensive and be ready to drive creatively in order to adjust and adapt to those who are not actually mentally present to what they are doing. Gives the saying "be here soon" a deeper meaning with these drivers and their attention to actually being behind the wheel. "Oh, are there others on the road, in my lane, at my intersection? They won't hit me, I'll just keep trying to get to _____, find that parking space, change my mind etc and all will be okay!"

Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 31, 2010 at 11:00 pm

People drive like idiots here.

I see a surprising number of drivers who do not stop at stop signs on back streets.

I notice a lot what have to be drunk or impaired drivers.

I notice a lot of stupid people will cell phones still driving stupid, very slow and not aware of what's going on.

There are a lot of drivers who cannot seem to understand their car and how to keep it in their lane.

Lots of people do not know how to park.

We have a civilization deficit these days in the US. People are not brought up to understand and respect the system that we all live under ... people are brought up these days as if we live in a jungle, a jungle of our own construction, but the idea is that anyone can do anything that they can figure out how to do that no one will or can stop them and the law cannot touch them.

It makes me sick.

Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2010 at 11:03 pm

The best way to stop incompetent drivers and make public transportation self-sustaining is to make the driving test an actual driving test.

Grade on the curve, so that only enough drivers are licensed in a particular area for the traffic carrying capacity of the particular area.

For Palo Alto, that would mean a decrease of licensed drivers by probably 50%. The worst 50%.

Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 31, 2010 at 11:19 pm

We don't need to grade on a curve, that's silly, that just means in school some people who know what they are doing are failed just to shrink the number of passes.

What we need to do is to get tougher about driving and enforcement. I have not gotten a ticket in like 10 years, and I'm no star driver, I just drive safely.

When someone gets a ticket doing certain things, and get a number of them, no matter how nice they look, or how much money they have, or what posh neighborhood they have their house in - fine them and evaluate what they did.

Get rid of stupid drivers. It is not that often that the police really get to examine most of us, so when someone does something really stupid, it needs to be understood.

I just want to get rid of bad drivers.

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