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If you’re a tourist visiting Atlanta for the Super Bowl and you happened to drive here, you’ve probably noticed that in Atlanta we use turn signals a little differently than other parts of the country.
In the spirit of Southern Hospitality and not wanting visitors to feel out of place when they visit our fair city, I’ve assembled this quick guide to turn signal etiquette to help you learn the quirky way we handle our blinkers.
When to use turn signals: As a general rule, Atlantans don’t use turn signals. There are several possible reasons for this, the first of which is that it simply takes too much time.
Think of Atlanta’s highway system as an elaborate cross country road race. In the morning hours, the finish line is “work” and everybody is racing to get there faster than everybody else on the road. In the afternoons, the finish line is “home,” and we all want to beat everyone else on the road there. Activating a turn signal wastes precious seconds that we need to focus on the business of getting to the finish line faster than you.
There are actually only a few appropriate times to use a turn signal in metro Atlanta. If you’re lost, you certainly should use a turn signal. This will inform other drivers to go around you and pass you as quickly as possible. Once you activate a turn signal, other drivers become aware that you are not part of the daily road race, and you will be treated as though your car simply broke down in the middle of the road.
Another reason you would use a turn signal here is to signify your desire to be run off the road. If you’re changing lanes on the Interstate and wish to be run off the road, put that turn signal on. A nice gentleman in a pickup truck or a lady in a Lexus will speed up immediately to prevent you from changing lanes, in the hopes that you’ll just give up the ghost and get off the roadway.
If you are in a roundabout, you should use a turn signal. I know that seems counterproductive, but roundabouts are confusing and come from the northern states. If you come upon a roundabout, even if you’ve seen them every day of your life, you need to put your blinker on to signal to other drivers that you are just as confused as they are, even if you aren’t.
Also, if you’re driving in the snow, you should definitely use your turn signal. The race is off when there is snow, so if you’re from outside Atlanta and actually know how to drive, we could use your expertise in guiding us away from danger.
When not to use turn signals: As stated before, there is never really a good reason to use these archaic mechanisms. At its core, a turn signal tells other drivers to exercise caution, and in Atlanta, we’re not about that cautious life.
You should not use a turn signal while merging into traffic or changing lanes. Also, if you’re sitting in a turn lane, you don’t need to use a turn signal because everybody knows what you’re doing and can tell you’re in a turn lane even on the foggiest days and at the most congested intersections.
If you’re not on the expressway and wish to make a turn, the preferred method is to slow down to about 2 mph, and then slam on the breaks right before making your turn. This is the Atlanta way to signal other drivers of your intention to turn. Blinking lights are just rude. Driving at the speed of a horse and buggy and then risking getting rear-ended is the way to go.
On the highway, you do not need to use your turn signal to exit the highway. Just whip across 5 lanes of traffic on one swift motion and get off at the ramp. If you dare put your blinker on, we won’t let you over. I-285 is a circle for a reason. We like to make outsiders drive around in circles as many times as possible until they learn our ways. Think of it as NASCAR training.
If using your turn signal could possibly give another driver clarity about your intentions on the road, don’t use it. Remember, this is a race to get home the fastest. It’s nobody’s damn business what your intentions are, and you can’t win the race if you tell the competition what you’re going to do next.
Hazard Lights: A special note needs to be made about hazard lights. While Atlantans are opposed to turn signals, hazard lights should always be used in rain. Yes, we realize that everybody is stuck in the same weather conditions, but your hazard lights will signal to other drivers to bypass you and have a car accident with someone else.
Best of luck, and we’ll see y’all at the starting line.