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Diatribe: One Shouldn’t Act Like A Traffic Cop When One Is Behind The Wheel.

08/23/2012

Imagine that  you’re at a four-way stop sign and the person about to cross in front of you from the right clearly isn’t confident in his/her ability to understand the machinations of the intersection.  You know that they have the right of way but they stare at you as if in a trance.  Could this be the first four-way stop that they’ve encountered?  Finally, with a look of exasperation on their face the other driver waves you into the intersection encouraging you to cross in front of them.  By now, other motorists have approached the intersection and confusion ensues.  One shouldn’t act like a traffic cop when one is behind the wheel.

Imagine you’re walking along a sidewalk and about to approach a cross walk when a driver coming toward you waves you into the cross walk as if they’re giving you permission to cross the street in front of them.  Thanks, anyway, but I’ll look both ways and cross the street when I think it’s safe like my Momma taught me … not because a stranger invites me to walk into the flow of traffic.  One shouldn’t act like a traffic cop when one is behind the wheel.

Imagine you’re waiting patiently in a left-turn lane to cross a busy road.  Traffic in the through lanes is all but stopped when someone waves you in front of them at which time you discover that cars are rapidly approaching in the lane to their right.  You’ve been waved into oncoming traffic by a perfect stranger.  One shouldn’t act like a traffic cop when one is behind the wheel.

What most people don’t know (or understand) is that, in many instances, they can be held civilly liable if an accident occurs as a result of them waving another vehicle across a lane of travel.  For many well-meaning drivers a wave of this nature indicates that they are yielding the right of way but, unfortunately, the same wave can be interpreted by other drivers to mean “the coast is clear”.  Even when it’s not.

Imagine that your well-intentioned signal to another motorist (or to a pedestrian) results in a fatal accident and a court finds you liable for damages.  One shouldn’t act like a traffic cop when one is behind the wheel.

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3 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink

    This is becoming more and more a problem recently. I truly believe these people don’t know the foundational rules of the road. Nearly every day I have to shake my head “no” to someone gesturing me to go against basic rules. An oncoming vehicle at a stop sign gestures me to go ahead and turn left in froNT of them. Duh, no way! What if this is a miscommunication and there is an accident? It would be my fault!
    Maybe a combination of ignorance or superiority/control issues.?
    Know the rules, people.

    Like

  2. A *kind* driver waving an old man into making a left-turn put him right in front of my motorcycle on the inside lane, and I got to be a hood ornament. Wish I’d known about the civil liability aspect. The thoughtless goof could have paid for my lost wages.

    Like

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