Chrysler Eliminates Turn Signals From Its Vehicles

Michael Posner
by Michael Posner
chrysler eliminates turn signals from its vehicles

As it struggles to find its way through bankruptcy, Chrysler Corp. has announced its most recent cut back. The automaker is eliminating turn signals from its vehicles. In a written statement, a Chrysler spokesperson said that with turn signal usage falling below 10 percent, slicing the cost from each car (estimated at $22) would save the Fiat division over $44 million a production year (based on sales of over two million cars in 2007). “Our studies of vehicle equipment usage found that sixty-five percent of drivers were unaware that their cars actually had a turn signal device,” the press release revealed. “Of the thirty-five percent that were aware of the devices, only half even knew how to use them.” To counter safety advocates’ criticism of the equipment deletion, and bolster its case for a NHTSA waiver, Chrysler released the results of a driver survey.

33% No free hand, one on the wheel other on cell phone

28% I own the road, it’s my way on the highway

22% turn signals are so old school

12% clicking sound is so annoying

5% turned wipers on by mistake one too many times

Professor James W. Faber of the Toronto Institute for Turn Signal Safety confirmed the integrity of the survey results. He said Chrysler’s actions were not surprising; his own studies also showed little support in the United States for the usage of turn signals.

On January 7, 2008, we had our test driver cover a twenty-two-mile track and count turns and lane changes for turn signal usage in West Palm Beach, Florida. The results were as follows:

Total lane changes/turns: 107 vehicles

Turn signals utilized: 37 vehicles

Turn signals ignored: 70 vehicles

The usage rate of 35% was surprisingly high. In some northeastern cities, we see rates of usage in the low 20 percent. In fact, the only areas where usage exceeds fifty percent is in retirement communities. However, it appears that some of the data may be skewed, as half of the vehicles appeared to have their turn signals permanently flashing.

Professor Patterson stated that the results for his own country were vastly different than the states. In Canada, 103 percent of drivers used their turn signals. He attributed to the statistically impossible result by claiming that excessively polite Canadians signal even when they’re not actually driving.

Chrysler advised that it was not totally abandoning the use of turn signals in its vehicles. “We will provide each driver, upon written request, and with a small shipping and handling fee, an instruction manual showing the appropriate hand signals used for signaling turns and lane changes.” The spokesperson kindly added that for the first forty years of driving cars didn’t have flashing turn signals, and if it worked back then it should be okay today.

Chrysler is not the only manufacturing addressing the use (or lack thereof) of turn signals in America. Volvo announced a prototype ESPS system. The Swedish brand’s extra sensory perception signal system reads a driver’s mind prior to each turn or lane change and automatically activates the signals requiring no driver intervention.

Volvo says the ESPS system was currently being tested. It should be available for domestic use in 2012. They added that safety is neat and they were glad to solve this difficult problem with technology.

BMW has already addressed one of the annoying problems with conventional turn signals. On most cars, the signal stalk is a physical move up for a right signal and down for a left signal and stays in either position until either a turn is completed or, in the case of a lane change, the driver manually turns off the turn signal. This design aesthetic was not in keeping with BMW’s flame surface treatment introduced by head designer Chris Bangle.

“Our signals are fixed oceans, only cresting for an instance to signal intent, and then returning to their level nesting place adding beauty and functionality to the over aesthetic while still maintaining the overall starkness of the vehicles interior,” Bangle said. He declined to comment on whether this radical change to a sixty-year-old system would encourage less use of turn signals, instead referring readers to BMW’s legal disclaimer page on their website.

Will the turn signal go the way of the vinyl record, rotary dial phone and pet rocks? Only time will tell. But from this writer’s experience its use is doomed to be one of the future lost arts. Will my son someday sit in a bar and brag how his old man was a “turn signal user” or will he be vilified by his peers for the cranky views of his safety obsessed father? We shall see.

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  • Shaker Shaker on May 24, 2009

    Joey8360, mjposner Nurse Ratched is NOT AMUSED (But I am)

  • Namesakeone Namesakeone on Dec 25, 2013

    Had they written a similar article five years ago saying they would eliminate the spare tire, I would have thought it as ridiculous as this one. Now...

  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).