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248RPA
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04 Jan 2020, 2:59 pm

This might be weird, but bear with me.

My mother sometimes sits beside me when I drive. When we go to an intersection with other cars, she often says stuff like, “That means they’re letting you go.” or “Stop. They want to go first.”

Most of the time, the other drivers didn’t wave or blink a light or anything. And yet she somehow could tell what they wanted. It’s like the car has body language, and other drivers have to read the cues. Is this something you’ve found to be true as well? If so, have you learned to read the “cues”?

I often just wait until the others go.


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darkwaver
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04 Jan 2020, 4:54 pm

Maybe because she has more experience, she is better at anticipating what drivers will do, or maybe she is reading cues from their expressions.
Your question doesn't sound weird to me, because I almost never remember to look inside cars at other drivers, I just look at the cars themselves. So I probably miss all kinds of signals from driver's gestures and faces, but I have gotten reasonably good at knowing what will happen from watching how the cars move.



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04 Jan 2020, 6:30 pm

I can totally see this being a thing; whenever I'm at a stop sign or trying to make turn at an intersection or other similar situation I make sure to look at the other driver in case they try to communicate with me in whatever way since I can't tell what someone's trying to tell be just by where they stop their car or how fast they're driving.


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248RPA
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04 Jan 2020, 6:41 pm

darkwaver wrote:
So I probably miss all kinds of signals from driver's gestures and faces, but I have gotten reasonably good at knowing what will happen from watching how the cars move.

How long did it take you to get "reasonably good"? It's been almost two years since I got my license, but I don't drive every day.


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04 Jan 2020, 8:21 pm

Car "body language" is definitely a thing. It's not just the look and gestures of the driver, but how the driver controls the car a well. How long it takes to learn to read varies from person to person. It's something that slowly grows over time. It's not unlike learning to read and interpret people.

I started driving independently when I was 16. I didn't really start to learn how to read other drivers until I was in my mid 20's.



darkwaver
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05 Jan 2020, 6:34 pm

248RPA wrote:
How long did it take you to get "reasonably good"? It's been almost two years since I got my license, but I don't drive every day.

I don't remember exactly when, it just comes gradually with experience. I wasn't as good at it when I was younger.



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05 Jan 2020, 6:44 pm

Yes, I've been learning lots of clues in the last year.



NeilM
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06 Jan 2020, 4:35 pm

What happens to me a lot is not being able to see into the other car due to the sun or bright clouds reflecting off the glass. So I end up waiting on that car since they have the right of way even tho they are making hand gestures for me to go first but I can't see them. They never seem to allow for that possibility when they feel they have to "be nice" and let me go first. We both end up getting upset when if they would have taken their right of way to begin with, the matter would have been resolved in much less time.


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07 Jan 2020, 4:51 pm

I don't drive but as a pedestrian I don't always look at the driver, which I should because then I'll know whether to cross or whatever, without holding traffic up or risking being knocked over.

Sometimes drivers don't make it clear to anyone what they're doing. This can be especially dangerous on roundabouts if you don't use your turn signals. I've heard an NT rant about other road users, saying "they expect you to read their mind!"


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alabama
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08 Jan 2020, 3:49 pm

It is really interesting thread. Thanks for it



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08 Jan 2020, 7:39 pm

It takes time and a lot of paying attention to learn this language. Something to pay attention to for other cars is waiting time, almost like a first-come first-serve interaction. If the other car was there first or ahead of you, they get dibs.



mrpostman_7901
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15 Jan 2020, 7:29 pm

This is the worst at four-way intersections; I often wave people through or go if no one goes. New York is known for aggressive driving so I don't want to inconvenience or annoy anyone, but I also don't want to get into an accident. In general, you shouldn't have to predict what the other driver will do next; this isn't talking with your friends.



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15 Jan 2020, 8:06 pm

I do okay at intersections. Somehow I and the other driver figure out who gets the right of way, and its not always the one to the right (I think that's how its supposed to be in drivers ed). Maybe its the car, maybe its looking at the human driver. I dunno.

But this reminds me of a conversation between the "Car Guys" brothers on NPR about a possible cure for the problem of "road rage".

You hear about drivers on the road going nuts with anger and doing violence on other drivers. But pedestrians walking on the sidewalk never get "sidewalk rage". So why is that?

The Car Guys quoted someone who theorized that it was the LACK of body language that was the problem. When youre boxed inside in a car you cant give off the body signals to other drivers that you give off as a pedestrians to other humans who are walking around. So on the road you get all kinds of misunderstandings that you don't get into with others when youre just walking.

The solution they suggested was....to imitate the animal kingdom, and to equip each car with....a mechanical tail as a social semaphore.

The tail would come out the rear and arch over the roof. When you came to an intersection and wanted to say...yield the right of way. you would have your mechanical tail droop down between your "legs" (tires) to show "submission" like in animals. and like that. :lol:

Months after I heard that show I was stuck in city traffic, and got bored, and... the thought of that car guys show drifted into my head. I tried to imagine all of the backed up cars coming both ways on that city street having a big meercat type tail coming out of its rear and arching over its roof. All dozens of them with happy perky upright tails. Started laughing out loud and the imagined sight.