Social Question

hominid's avatar

Should cars have "sorry" indicators?

Asked by hominid (7352points) September 19th, 2014

On my way to work this morning, I witnessed a guy cut someone off unintentionally. I could see his body language because I was temporarily next to him. He was saying, “sorry” and waving in a meek way. The guy behind him was having a tantrum, and it looked as though he was going to rip his own steering wheel off and throw it at him.

Cars have turn signals, break lights, and hazard lights. What if we had some uniform set of additional signals that were to identify intent to our fellow drivers? What if you could throw a “sorry” signal? Do you think this would help calm people who feel they have been done wrong on the road? In “real life” (non-driving), a simple, “Sorry, I did not intend to…” can go a long way.

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46 Answers

jca's avatar

This is a good idea.

How do you cut someone off unintentionally?

hominid's avatar

@jca: “How do you cut someone off unintentionally?”

It happens. You either didn’t see that the person was also moving into that lane, or didn’t realize how fast the person was really going.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

No, it would just overcomplicate things. A simple wave of the hand serves the same purpose. Just like a finger does if you’re not sorry.

jca's avatar

@hominid: Gotcha.

If I get into the right lane and someone on the far right gets into the left lane, I’d say “whew! close call!” but I probably wouldn’t be mad at the guy. He didn’t realize I was changing, I didn’t realize he was changing. (I try to watch for turn signals on other cars before changing lanes on highway, for that reason). If someone pulled out in front of me, not realizing how fast I was going, to me they’re just an asshole. To me, that’s unforgivable.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Why stop with that? WHy not one of those message boards? You could program in short messages:


and there would be a button to push on the dash to have it display on your rear window.

hominid's avatar

^ good idea

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

:-) I like @elbanditoroso‘s additions.

I think it would be nice if you could flash something up in your back window when you make a mistake or want to tell someone they’re a bit of a dick.

A symbol for flipping the bird.
‘Get of my arse or I’m going to brake”

So many options.

JLeslie's avatar

Nah. Where is the signal? The side of the car? The back? I just wave, you know the hand up, to acknowledge I now see the other guy. If he can see my face I mouth an I’m sorry and put my hand up. I also use my hand to thank drivers who let me in. It’s an acknowledgment of the other driver. Some parts of the country use it more than others.

@jca They might have just made a mistake and not seen you in their blind spot, they aren’t necessarily assholes. We all have made mistakes on the road. I like that you said you look for turn signals, one reason I always use mine is because I hope if I am screwing up another driver can honk and warn me before an accident happens.

rojo's avatar

I like @elbanditoroso ‘s idea. It could be a scrolling message setup across the back of the trunk (or boot). I would suggest using voice recognizing text messaging but that could lead to some interesting autocorrect errors. But, WTH it might be good for laughs.

kritiper's avatar

That and middle finger indicators should the opposite need arise.

Here2_4's avatar

I think thankyou is what I have wanted most, for those tight, congestion moments, but sorry seems good for that too. During gridlock, culd we type in jokes to entertain each other?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I would never, in a million years, flip another driver off. I don’t want to get my ass kicked.

eno's avatar

Not a good idea since it doesn’t actually prevent people from cutting each other off and apologies are not always accepted until proper retribution is given.

What they had for years now, at least in my car, was the blind spot detection monitor coupled with the lane departure warning system. This is the way to go.

hominid's avatar

@eno: “Not a good idea since it doesn’t actually prevent people from cutting each other off and apologies are not always accepted until proper retribution is given.”

Ok, how about this: a mechanical arm that reaches out and hands out an appropriate fee? Cut someone off and they are having a tantrum? Press the $20 button, and bam – happy little camper. You could even have an option to provide a lollipop along with the cash (or maybe a sticker saying “I’m special!”).

rojo's avatar

Actually, it could be done with a single sign.

If you screwed up it would just flash “Sorry”

If they are being a little pissy about it then the sign would flash “Sorry, Asshole”

And if it was their fault, it would just flash “Asshole”

Coloma's avatar

Haha…on the occasions I screw up, don’t see someone, etc. I always try to send a signal, a wave, a funny face, a gesture of apology. This is actually a good idea, then again, shit happens, as long as one is not being completely stupid and reckless.
I am adjusting to a new zone over here and am having a hard time getting used to the layout of this new town, I have been joking with patrons in stores and parking lots that it is taking me freaking HOURS to navigate these new roads and stores. A little understanding goes a long way and remembering that we have no idea what is really going on with another person driving.

If someone is going slow maybe they have a sick or elderly person in the car, last year I drove a friend home from the ER that was having a terrible bout of vertigo, I went extra slow so he would not vomit in my car. haha
Speeding could mean they are on their way in an emergency situation.
Years ago my dog got shot by a rancher for chasing his cows back onto his property after they broke down the fence onto my place.

I ran a red light, cautiously, getting my dog to the emergency vet.
You just never know what the hell is happening with other drivers and I try not to fly off the handle by remaining aware there are multiple possibilities that could be unfolding instead of automatically ass-uming they are just being an ass.

kritiper's avatar

Some of these suggestions are great! Imagine how much driving pleasure could come of these! That, and adopting my ‘three strikes’ plan. ( If someone does a boner that deserves proper measure, you pull our your pistol and shoot a hole in the back of his/her car as a warning. If there are three holes in the perps car already, you shoot the driver!)

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Another indicator:

What makes you think anyone would use this one?

The same people that blather on at parties about themselves don’t appreciate the miracle that is being able to state your attention behind the wheel?

The mind continues to reel…

Aethelwine's avatar

This would work well in Canada.

hominid's avatar

@SecondHandStoke – Did you read this as a serious proposal?

jerv's avatar

I think just having a middle finger bumper sticker would be more honest.

I may live on the West coast, but I’m an East coast driver. If I cut you off, it was intentional.

downtide's avatar

I’ve always wanted a little button I can press which will activate the brake lights without actually applying the brakes. Specifically to scare the pants off those idiots who drive too close.

rojo's avatar

@downtide I have found that you can give the effect of brake light just by turning on your lights unexpectedly (this only works in the daytime). Those red light in the back come on, they can’t see the headlights come on at the same time and it has the desired results of scaring the shit out of someone who is riding your butt.

jca's avatar

I’ll tap the brakes. Light tap does not slow the car, but sends a definite signal to the person tailgating.

SecondHandStoke's avatar


No, I saw it as an oppornity to bitch.

JLeslie's avatar

I never tap the brakes, I think it is dangerous.

fluthernutter's avatar

I never tap the brakes, I think it’s passive aggressive.
My dad does this all the time.

JLeslie's avatar

The big problem is some people actually think tailgating is the proper way to indicate they want you to move over and from what I can tell states in the US will not teach flashing your headlights. Many of us know we can flash our lights, but at least in FL I remember taking a drivers class and it was brought up and the teacher said, “you need to slow down. You should give yourself plenty of time to get to where you are going, leave ten minutes earlier.” Can you believe it?! That’s so annoying. The fact is some people are driving faster and some slower and a way to communicate with the car ahead of you is with your headlights. In fact, FL law is you can communicate with your lights, but they still don’t teach to flash your lights to ask a car to change lanes.

hominid's avatar

@SecondHandStoke: “No, I saw it as an oppornity to bitch.”

There are plenty of opportunities for you to “bitch”, like the “Want to vent?” threads. Why insert “bitching” in non-“bitching” threads?

jca's avatar

I think flashing headlights is viewed as aggressive driving. People do it all the time, and I do, too, but won’t do it in front of cops. I think cops won’t think too kindly of it.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca If someone is behind you how do you know they want to go faster if they aren’t tailgating and aren’t flashing their lights? I never feel a driver is aggressive by flashing their lights, I just feels like they want to go faster, and are asking me to move over.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: If someone is right behind me and there’s nobody in front of me, I’ll gladly move over, without being asked. If someone is behind me and I’m behind a bunch of other cars (for example morning traffic), I may or may not move. I’m not a slow driver, so I’m usually the one wanting people to move out of my way.

George Carlin made a joke once: People that go slower than you are idiots. “Come on, idiot, get out of my way.” People that go faster than you are maniacs. “Look at that maniac!!”

JLeslie's avatar

@jca Haha! George Carlin is clever. Seriously though, for me whether someone is in front of me is not necessarily what determines if I get over. Traffic all around me matters too. If someone flashes their lights because they really want to go faster, I don’t have a problem letting them go. If they have to flash the person who was in front of me, have at it. It really doesn’t bother me. Let the people who want to drive fast go. Better they speed down the left than weave in and out of traffic.

I think people in America tend to feel it is obnoxious, because we aren’t taught it as a good way to let the person ahead of you know you want to go faster. I learned it from a friend who was stationed in Germany fir a while and it was commonplace there. We used it quite a bit in the DC area too. I don’t think anyone ever gave me the beams living in Memphis, they just tailgated.

SecondHandStoke's avatar


As in the case of all issues, context matters.

Complaining about the masses’ terrible communication skills behind the wheel is quite appropriate ITT.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Myself and a female coworker were going some place with another coworker, who was driving. He got up right behind this big truck that had junk haphazardly thrown in the bed. It was piled up higher than the the bed. My female coworker said, “Oh, this is so dangerous!”
Dude says, “Nope, cuz I’m a race car driver.” (WTF?)
Then I said, “Is there a reason you’re so close to him?”
He said, “I’m trying to make him go faster.” (WTF)

kritiper's avatar

@downtide had a great answer about the button to activate the brake lights since brake lights are brighter than (headlamps on) tail lights. Turning on the emergency flashers gets them to back off.

ibstubro's avatar

I have often wondered how long it will be before someone develops an LED display that will send messages to other drivers on the side or rear window.

“Your turn signal is on.”
“The speed limit is 65.”
“I hope your taking to 911.”

crissy14's avatar

HAHA!! I think they should!

Mine should have a sign on the front that says, “Oh, no you didn’t!!”

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@ibstubro I’ve seen them advertised before. The problem is typing your message while you drive. Maybe now that voice activation technology is improving, it could be done that way? It may make people careful what they say about other drivers.

ibstubro's avatar

If you can link to the advertisement, @FireMadeFlesh, that would help?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

The ad I saw originally was in an old car magazine, and I’ve got more of them than I care to admit, so I can’t remember which one. But I did find this! I also discovered someone does emoticons for cars haha.

ibstubro's avatar

7 years, and no edit of “enable drivers communicate on the road by providing up to five options for expressing your.” Communication, indeed, @FireMadeFlesh

I want one of each, @FireMadeFlesh, although if they ban expletives, I may have no real use for the text one. :)

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@ibstubro I think that’s why they made an emoticon rather than pre-set text messages – if they tried text, the only reaction would be “huh??”

ibstubro's avatar

Freaking iceholes, @FireMadeFlesh

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