Annoy Yourself Into Better Driving With This Turn Signal Monitor

Turn signal monitor

Something like 99% of the people on the road at any given moment will consider themselves an above-average driver, something that’s as statistically impossible as it is easily disproven by casual observation. Drivers make all kinds of mistakes, but perhaps none as annoying and avoidable as failure to use their turn signal. This turn signal monitor aims to fix that, through the judicious use of negative feedback.

Apparently, [Mark Radinovic] feels that he has a predisposition against using his turn signal due to the fact that he drives a BMW. To break him of that habit, one that cost him his first BMW, he attached Arduino Nano 33 BLEs to the steering wheel and the turn signal stalk. The IMUs sense the position of each and send that over Bluetooth to an Arduino Uno WiFi. That in turn talks over USB to a Raspberry Pi, which connects to the car’s stereo via Bluetooth to blare an alarm when the steering wheel is turned but the turn signal remains untouched. The video below shows it in use; while it clearly works, there are a lot of situations where it triggers even though a turn signal isn’t really called for — going around a roundabout, for example, or navigating a sinuous approach to a drive-through window.

While [Mark] clearly built this tongue firmly planted in cheek, we can’t help but think there’s a better way — sniffing the car’s CANbus to determine steering angle and turn signal status comes to mind. This great workshop on CANbus sniffing from last year’s Remoticon would be a great place to start if you’d like a more streamlined solution than [Mark]’s.

[via Tom’s Hardware]

44 thoughts on “Annoy Yourself Into Better Driving With This Turn Signal Monitor

    1. Over here you use the turn signal only when exiting a roundabout, never when entering. And since we drive on the right side, we then always indicate to the right. Of course you also use the turn signal when switching lanes on multi-lane roundabouts, but these are rare.

      1. Most, if not all, states require you to signal your turn in advance of reaching an intersection. A roundabout is a form of intersection control, just like a signal or stop sign, and is a single intersection, just like those other forms. Signaling right to exit is unique to roundabouts, but signaling left if not turning right on entry is not only required by law, but courteous to other drivers and could prevent someone from entering too close to you.

    2. Queensland road rules (as I understand them):

      Use right-hand indicator when entering the round-about (except if you’re exiting at the very first exit), keep that indicator on until you reach the exit _before_ the one you intend to exit on, then switch to the left-hand indicator to signal you are exiting the round-about. Exception: if going “straight across”, no indicator is necessary.

      Victoria has somewhat different rules, which is why Queensland drivers get called “traffic hazards” down there, and Victorian drivers get called the same up here.

      1. So in Queensland you should use right-hand indicator while you turn steering wheel left (entering round-about, left-hand traffic)? Or “when entering round-about” means “after you enter round-about”?

    1. Yes, it is good to see that he is trying. He’ll probably ostracization by his BMW fellows as a result. May even be banned from wearing the special BMW underwear as a result.

      BMW drivers are the worst. Car driving up the shoulder of the road at many times the speed of traffic– a BMW. Running a very stale red light, BMW again. Changing lanes 10 times in a distance of a couple blocks– yup, a BMW. Kissing your rear bumper in spite of the fact that speed of traffic does not allow driving any faster, yes a BMW.

      There is truth to the saying, “You buy a BMW, you grow a second @sshole.”

      1. It’s coz BMW blinker fluid costs like thirty dollars a liter. All the rest of us get it for cheap so we’re not as afraid to use it. BMW spare parts costs are craaaaazy. (I say that as I have two BMW M10 engines in my garage.)

          1. Last year, I read in Consumer Reports that their reader feedback on automobile reliability shows BMWs to be very reliable in their first 5 years, but more than make up for it in the second 5 years.

            It was in the 1970s when I saw my first BMW.
            What struck me most was the double “horse collar” grill.
            I thought, if one “horse collar” was bad for the Ford Edsel, how can two be any better?

    2. Actually the indicators on the BMWs i’ve driven are really odd. It doesn’t have the same tactile feedback as other cars so its really easy to hit the indicator and nothing happens or you hit auto cancel mode. Many times I was sure I had turned on my indicator and realized it hadn’t happened for some reason

    3. I was sure that BMW has turn lights like an option you choose when buying. So once I asked a dealer is it difficult to connect them? He replied that there should be no problem if I just tell them where to mount them and what they are for?

  1. I love hacks but if you can’t operate an indicator (BMW driver or not) you really shouldn’t be on the road.

    I find myself indicating even if there is no visible cars around out of habit.
    I currently drive a BMW and have owned previous makes including Audi, Nissan, MG and Mazda but using an indicator has always been pretty simple and second nature.

    Operating a car is only one a small part of driving. Manners and good awareness would probably prevent a lot of accidents.

    1. I always use the turn signal, even if I was the only one on the road. My reasoning is pretty simple: if you train yourself into doing it consistently, it’ll eventually become almost like a reflex and it’ll be very unlikely that you’d forget to do it. Considering the fact that proper use of turn signals can literally save lives, it seems quite a logical thing to do.

      1. If you think you are the only person on the road, it is *even more vital* that you signal. Because if you are wrong about being the only person on the road, that by definition means that you haven’t seen the other person/people and therefore your maneouver would otherwise take them by surprise.

  2. “Something like 99% of the people on the road at any given moment will consider themselves an above-average driver, something that’s as statistically impossible”

    The problem here is what makes an above-average driver? Turns out, there are many definitions, and so people who ascribe to one can find countless examples who ascribe to a different one on the road at the same time, and each thinks the other is a horrible driver.

    Don’t believe be? Insurance companies seem to think people who never register an acceleration above 0.1G’s is a great driver despite the collisions happening behind them. A person may think that because they’ve never been involved in a collision, they are a superb driver, again, not factoring in circumstances, or collisions they may have caused but not been involved with. A rally driver (or wannabe) would think most people on the road who couldn’t manage their vehicle in a low traction situation are bad drivers, and handling the vehicle in all conditions makes a good driver. A defensive driving trainee might think the person who can stop on the brakes and come closest to the barrels in the road without hitting them is a good driver. An attentive driver may believe that being able to see road obstructions from 10’s of seconds away at highway speeds rather than reacting to it a few seconds beforehand makes a good driver…I could go on….

    1. There are a couple of assumptions in that sentence, that there is a single objective best driving style (as you note) and that driving skill is a gaussian distribution.
      99% of people have above the average number of eyes. That’s not a statistical impossibility: it’s just a nongaussian distribution.
      It’s really obvious that people can drive very badly indeed. They can crash in seconds after the first time they get in a car. I don’t think there’s really a bottom end for how badly people can drive. But what does an infinitely good driver look like?
      I suspect the distribution of driving skill is very non-gaussian and it’s possible for something like 65-70% of people to be above average drivers because some people are so bad. One crash-per-year person offsets 10 never crashed at all people in 10 years, meaning among that group you have 90% of the group above-average, and I know someone who caused a wreck every year until she quit driving after four years.

  3. Until they make taking a courteous driving course mandatory with the purchase of any BMW or 4×4 these should be factory fitted. Could even extend the project to include failing to stop for pedestrians at a zebra crossing, middle lane driving and tailgating.

    1. I drive an old car that has no audible clicking sound and no turn indicator light, and the turn signal cancel hardware doesn’t always work. I added a big bright green LED right over the tachometer with an AND circuit on the two turn signal wires that hook to the LED. It helped a lot.

  4. While I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that BMWs really *do* attact people prone to poor turn signal use, I’d bet the majority of that opinion comes from self-reinforcing confirmation bias.

    I’ve only heard it in areas where BMWs are seen as luxury cars. Around here everyone agrees the worst offenders are the entitled jerks who drive big tricked-out pickup trucks. Beats me if it’s actually true, but when they show up, you’re already on high alert and expecting them to do something dumb. Of course you notice.

  5. Oh yess… I live in the suburbs of Munich – and I know BMW drivers :-D

    I’m not sure, if it is good, if you get shocked by the scream while you drive. And doesn’t BMWs nowdays always have a lane assistant included?

    I have a lane assistant and, when I forget to use the turn indicator, the steering wheel shaks (or if I use the “force lane”-mode it holds against my steering attempts…).
    And it seems that it’s getting better with turn signals – at least with newer cars, perhaps because of these assistants.

    1. I was once driving along probably a bit too close to the car in front. They swerved suddenly and I was presented with a big plastic bucket in the middle of the lane about 20 yards away at 70mph (honest!) so I too swerved half a lane and avoided it.

      I often wonder who ‘collected’ that bucket, but it was probably someone using some form of lane assistant.

  6. Can we integrate a function to shock the driver painfully if they fail to deactivate the turn signal while not conducting a maneuver? Can we mandate this feature into all vehicles new and old?

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