Witt: A sign of graciousness needed on roads

Wouldn’t it be great — or at least helpful — if there were some hand signal that was universal (okay, it doesn’t have to be applicable in the far reaches of the solar system, but maybe could be useful within the confines of the United States) and showed a fellow driver that some alert from him or her was received, appreciated and acknowledged?

Recently, a driver, distracted momentarily at a traffic signal, did not realize he had an option to make his left turn until the driver behind him blew his horn and was seen waving his hand.  The driver behind was obviously somewhat frustrated, but did exactly what should have been expected of him.  He blew his horn.

And the driver in front was actually grateful for the alert since he had no desire to sit at the light any longer than necessary anyway.

But the driver in front was also frustrated,  frustrated by the fact he had no way of showing the fellow behind his signal was appreciated.

Probably every driver knows the hand signal commonly used which displays derision, or anger, or frustration: the age-old elevated middle digit.

And trying to acknowledge an alert from another driver presently is a haphazard affair.  No matter how one might try to do so — unless a driver is in a convertible or has the driver-side window open — any signal could easily be inferred as derogatory and could encourage the very attitude one is trying to avoid.

Face it.  There is just no typical way for someone to say “thank you” to a fellow driver considering the separations of vehicles, window tinting, speed and numerous other factors which keep drivers from easily communicating with one another.

The Hawaiians have a lovely hand signal that conveys happiness and “good times” and “be cool,” all in one.  They extend the thumb and small finger of one hand, curl the three inner fingers and rock the hand side to side.

It’s called the shaka sign and means “hang loose.”  It just imparts a happy feeling any time it’s used.

Here’s a suggested alternative.

How about a raised “W,” made by extending the three inner fingers and held straight up?  It would be similar to Churchill’s famous “V,” the extended index and middle finger that helped the British win World War II.

The “Flying W” could signify “Got the message. Appreciate it.  Have a good day.”  There.  Three positive messages, one hand signal.

There are also those cases when someone gives right-of-way to another driver, strictly out of courtesy.  Everyone has probably been receptive of this largesse at one time or another, and has probably been the purveyor of such courtesy as well.

If one is the recipient, he or she should feel some desire to acknowledge the kindness.  If one is the giver, an acknowledgement from the person receiving the stipend is always welcome.

There are plenty of ways to demonstrate displeasure with other drivers — even to the unfortunate extent of using a weapon against the vehicle or person, but some way to show gratitude might go a long way toward making the roadways safer.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at chuck740@bellsouth.net.