Thursday Trivia

Thirsday Trivia Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars! This Week’s Question: Which was the first U.S. Automaker to introduce flashing turn signals as a standard feature? If you think you know the answer, flash on over the jump and see if you are correct. GTIrearturnsledsTurn signals are featured on every car sold in the U.S. today, although you wouldn’t know it from most drivers’ seeming disinterest in using this safety feature. Of course, motorists didn’t always have the common flashing light turn signal to ignore, as while the necessity of car to car communication was identified, the means for doing so took a while to gain ubiquity. First off were the standard hand signals; raised arm indicating a turn opposite that side of the body, straight out for turns on that arm’s side, and down to indicate stop. As cars became more common, and traffic more heavy, the need to providing greater visibility than a single flapping wing was made obvious. Numerous attempts to create visual indication of intent were introduced, including swinging arms known as trafficators, and illuminating lamps with arrow shapes. These were tried over the first forty years of the Automobile age, but it wasn’t until the beginning of WWII that the flashing lights that we know and love today first became a standard feature here in the States.  It was a company that’s also still around today that first introduced them. From the Second Chance Garage:

…Buick was the first U.S. automaker to offer factory-installed flashing turn signals. Introduced in 1939 as a safety feature, the new-fangled feature was advertised as the “Flash-Way Directional Signal” operated from a switch on the new “Handi-shift” column-mounted shifter. The flashing signals only operated on the rear lights. In 1940 Buick enhanced the directional indicators by extending the signals to front lights and adding a self-canceling mechanism.

Today, you probably don’t give safety features like brake lights and turn signals a second thought, as each is expected – and expected to work – but back in the day that wasn’t always so. Maybe if they knew some of the history of the feature, more people would use them. Image: MonteCarloForum

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