Friday, 24 October 2014


There were two motor cycles  (with riders and pillion passengers  - is the word "pillion" still in use?)  just ahead of me as I drove into nearby Calliandra Drive this afternoon.
Both bikers used their flashing indicators to show that they were turning right, this helped me to slow down and take extra care.
My memory immediately took me to the days when flashing indicators had not been invented.  In the U.K. (and maybe in other places) cars had what were called trafficators.
Here is a photo'  of a trafficator on a "Morris Minor" ( a British "Peoples Car" if ever there was one)
Trafficators were hard to see on small cars, and almost impossible to see at night, and on larger vehicles. 
Engineering technology advanced to the point where the flashing indicators became ubiquitous and trafficators became redundant. In the U.K. many older cars were retro-fitted with indicators  (I suspect that "the law" insisted on this).
We in the U.K. also learned various hand -signals to indicate the driver's intention to slow down, to stop, or to turn right or left.  (They were useful in daylight, but not too helpful after dark when street lights were not very bright, and when car/motorbike/lorry/ and bicycle lamps were dim and dull).
Here are three examples  -  remember that we drive on the left in Great Britain (and in many other wise and cultured nations!)
There were similar rules for horse-back riders, cyclists, and motor cyclists.  These rules were enshrined in the "Highway Code", first published in 1931
That first "Highway Code"  made reference to driving on "The King's Highway". 
Here are some of the rules:
We should indeed pay special attention to children, cyclists (and motor cyclists) [not mentioned] .
In a spirit of respect for the "old rules", I will be ready to stop when meeting a flock of sheep or a herd of cows or a pack of hounds on Sarasota's busy roads.
I failed my first driving test in the U.K. back in 1965.  The tester was mean and unreasonable.  After all,  I had driven through only one Stop sign.

When I accidentally migrated to the U.S.A in 1976 I drove using my U.K. Drivers Licence for about a year.
Came the time when I summoned enough courage to get a Massachusetts Licence.  I was so wary of the road test, (given my propensity to drive through stop signs, and the American custom of driving on the wrong side of the road).
Oddly enough the great and good Commonwealth of Massachusetts required no more than a written examination for me to get a Licence (and that test was multiple choice with only ten (or maybe twenty) questions.  It seemed to me to be very odd that I, a drive on the left person, did not have to take a road test in order to drive on  the right.
I passed the written test with flying colours.
Thirty seven years later I still have no knowledge of   "American" hand signals!

1 comment:

  1. My favourite exposition of the highway code:
    cheers from Somerville, MA /Joan Rasch