Let Your Fingers Do The Talking: Universal Sign Language For Drivers

I am somewhat displeased.

I am somewhat displeased.

The problem with Driver’s Education is that students learn useless things like the proper distance to maintain when following a car towing a house trailer up a 30 degree incline during an ice storm (2 miles.) Why don’t they teach things you can really use?

Here are some tools to help you navigate in the real world:

Universal Sign Language for Drivers

driversNoYouGo2No, No, After You:  One hand makes a shooing motion, right to left or left to right, depending on the position of the other car. Usually accompanied by a smile and nod of the head. Used by a driver to indicate that the other driver may go first at a 4-way stop. A more vigorous shooing motion may also be used to indicate to pedestrians that they may cross the street, and that you will not run them over.

driversMergeVirg2Let Me In: One hand pointing to the next lane where you want to go. Accompanied by a pleading look directed at the driver currently in that lane. Used to get the other driver to recognize you as a deserving human being, and not a competing race-car at the Indianapolis 500. Intensity of pointing gesture and pleading look increases the closer you get to your lane ending and the very real possibility that you will hurl over the approaching cliff to your doom in a fiery crash.

driversHowThanks2How, Kemosabe: One hand up straight, palm forward as if swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in a court of law. Also how Hollywood depicted Native Americans saying hello in movies 50 years ago.  This gesture is accompanied by a half-smile and possibly an incline of the head. Used to respond to another driver who has waived you ahead at a four-way stop, or has let you merge in front of them. It serves as acknowledgment, agreement and thank you.

driversGiveMeStrength2Give Me Strength: Both hands raised, palms up. Accompanied by both eyes looking to heaven with an expression of open-mouthed disbelief. This indicates you are appealing to a Higher Power for the strength to resist the nearly overpowering urge to unleash a can of wup-ass on the clueless driver sharing the road with you, even though he or she definitely deserves said ass-wuppery.

driversLightChanged2Got a Light?: One hand raised, palm up. Both eyes also raised, but not as far as heaven – just as far as the traffic light. May be accompanied by a short toot on the horn to awaken the driver who is obviously asleep in the car ahead of you. This indicates that the light turned green a whole, 2 seconds ago and some people have places to go!

driversSorry2My Bad: Both hands raised, palms up. Differs from the Give Me Strength gesture as it is accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders and a sheepish smile of apology. Used to indicate you are sorry for forcing the other driver to slam on the brakes to avoid certain death, and to say that in the future you promise to check your blind spot by actually turning your head BEFORE changing lanes. If the other driver answers with an Up Yours sign, you are not allowed to respond in kind.

driversCan'tGoOn3I Give Up: Both hands grasping the steering wheel, head bowed in defeat. Possible tears. Used to signify your total befuddlement at how some people were ever allowed to get a driver’s license, and that you can no longer stand the seemingly endless parade of rude and clueless drivers on the road nowadays. Also signifies your intention to sell your car and take the bus from now on.

There you have it. Learn to interpret these universal hand signals and there will be no mistaking the messages you are sending and receiving.  This is especially true when you use the following signal:

driversVeryDispleased2Up Yours: One hand raised, the middle finger extended skyward. The other hand may clasp the arm above the elbow for emphasis. Accompanied by an expression of anger and, often, words that would have gotten your mouth washed out with soap when you were a child. Used to signal displeasure with another driver’s performance.

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About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
This entry was posted in General Ramblings, Model Behavior and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to Let Your Fingers Do The Talking: Universal Sign Language For Drivers

  1. HAHAH! This is so great and so true! Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  2. mistyslaws says:

    The faces are key (and very well done, Peg. Good job!). But you did forget the angrily hunched over and gripping the steering wheel with both hands while swearing like a trucker pose. I use that one quite often. There are some real dumbasses driving out there.

    Like

  3. susielindau says:

    I have often thought the same thing. I use hand motions all the time, but they are not universal and leave many drivers wondering what the hell I’m trying to tell them.
    My most memorable time was when I hand motioned a stupid fool standing in the middle of the road to get out of the way as I sped down the road. It was a cop holding a speed gun…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Perfect. I love this list. 🙂

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  5. I have used every one of those, plus the added head-banging on the steering wheel while doing the “I Give Up” motion. I once wrote a post which included a hair-raising tale of trying to merge into busy traffic near NYS, using all kinds of “Let Me In” signals and words, none of which worked – if you wish, see http://cordeliasmomstill.com/2013/09/19/road-trips-part-ii-off-to-see-the-future/ (the part about visiting Sarah Lawrence College).

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Funny stuff, CM! I had a similar experience in Chicago a couple of weeks ago and almost lost the back end of the car trying to merge onto the highway on the right, then cross 4 lanes of accordion traffic to get to the left-hand exit.

      Like

  6. I would like to add to the list if I may. The ‘flicking of the head lights’ during dusk hours to the oncoming vehicle, to indicate, yes you may cut across me to turn. If the vehicle turning and then not moving, the two armed approach (both arms outward and then swooping to the left/right) indicating “this is your personal invitation to yes please go, I am holding all the traffic up for you as you indicated that you would like to turn in front of me, so please take all the time in the world”.

    Like

  7. Elyse says:

    Peg, these are great. And I do believe that universal conformity to them will result in fewer disagreements amongst drivers. And fewer road rage incidents!

    Like

  8. I’ve always loved this quote from George Carlin: “Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” So true.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Oh please, oh please, let this be FP’d! I have had to make increasing use of many of these recently, concealing most as much as possible in light of the observant eyes in the back seat. 🙂

    Like

  10. This was so spot on. I lost it at “I GIVE UP.”

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    • pegoleg says:

      I’m always doing that. So far I haven’t actually gone through with selling the car, but that’s just because we don’t have effective public transportation in this little town.

      Like

  11. Great sign language interpretations and explanations. When I am a passenger, I love to stick my arm out the window to help the driver in my car get into the right lane. It works every time. I kind of wave and point my finger at the lane we want to cross into. I don’t know why my husband hates it when I do it, it works! I also tend to blow kisses to those that let me in or pass. That’s always fun to watch their expressions. 🙂

    Like

  12. Carrie Rubin says:

    This is great! Your pictures are fantastic. Love the Give Me Strength one. That one will definitely come in handy.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. dmswriter says:

    This is great! I sent it to our kids’ driver’s ed teacher. He’ll get a big kick out of it. 🙂

    Like

  14. Shannon says:

    Great post! Did you “make” all those photos? If you did, it’s brilliant. It’s like car-crash-dummy come to life. Except without the X’s for eyes.

    “My Bad” is the best. I get a LOT of those when people forget that I’m there while they are changing lanes, talking to their passenger, and texting at the same time. Good thing I drive like a moron (using George Carlin’s description) and can easily get out of the way. I’ve avoided so many oopsies, I’m reluctant to turn my crappy, low-valued 10-year-old van in for something new. I’m waaaay overdue for an accident I didn’t cause.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I DID make all of them, Shannon, thanks. If I told you how much time I spent posing my little wooden mannequin, taking pictures, painting expressions on and trying to figure out how to overlay a steering wheel on each of the photos, well, you’d ask me if it’s true that I have no life.

      It’s so much smarter to drive like a moron than an idiot, but try not to be either around me. I seem to lack the “patience” gene when driving.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Shannon says:

        Well, they’re just fantastic. Too much time or no. I need to get a bumper sticker for those who get stuck behind me: “Rear end me so I can get a new car! Or you can just go around and do the one-finger wave.”

        Like

        • pegoleg says:

          It’s funny. My hubby is driving slower the older he gets. Now he has the people stacking up behind him, like you. But my 86-year-old dad now thinks every drive to the pharmacy is a time-trial for Le Mans.

          Like

  15. lexiemom says:

    Honestly, I thought all drivers learned these by osmosis when their 16 year old new driver butt hit the driver’s seat for the first time.

    Like

  16. pattisj says:

    You missed your calling, Pegoleg. I wish I’d had you for Driver’s Ed.

    Like

  17. Sandy Sue says:

    I was laughing by the time I finished the title. And the rest did not disappoint. How, Kemosabe!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Thanks Sandy. After I posted this and patted myself on the back for the clever title, it occurs to me that people under 40 not only have never heard that slogan, they probably don’t even know what yellow pages are, since they’re going the way of the dodo. Sigh.

      Like

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  19. I wonder if they’d FP you just after they FP’d you? This is the perfect post.

    I LOVE the drawings, so cute, they made me giggle. I usually don’t use gestures so much as I swear a blue streak. Ever hear of the seven words you can’t say on TV by George Carlin? Yeah, I say all seven plus one. Forgive me for rambling…I’m sicker than a dog and doped up on Nyquil so I might not be making any sense.

    Like

  20. Al says:

    This is a Seinfeld worthy post. Enlightening, but wouldn’t the last gesture serve for all those situations?

    Also, shouldn’t you warn that this post is X-rated if you’re going to show nude pictures of yourself? On the other hand, it looks like you’ve lost a lot of weight. Way to go!

    Like

  21. totsymae1011 says:

    Cool visuals. I’ll have to direct my daughter here, who’s still in the learning mode.

    Like

  22. Margie says:

    I have one of those bendy figure things too, but never thought to photograph and photoshop it like you have. Absolutely excellent post!

    Like

  23. These are pretty much spot on and used by me on a daily basis. Lately I have noticed that the air gets blue and I find people reading my lips with a shocked expression as well.

    Like

  24. Can’t comment- must wipe up all the spilled coffee from laughing so hard. This brings back so many memories of long congested morning commutes. Gold star!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Thanks so much! I had a lot of fun with this one. Ever since I wrote it, I do the “How, Kemosabe” gesture very deliberately, mouth the words like I’m Tonto, then giggle. Other drivers must think I’ve escaped from the loony bin.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. You should market this to driver training classes. We’d all be safer on the roads. No wonder you get Freshly pressed so many times–you are brilliant! 🙂

    Like

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