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Sorry signal aims to reduce road rage

Hand signal is an unspoken apology when you make a mistake behind the wheel

By Bill Roebuck

Use this signal to say you're sorry when you make a mistake while driving.The problem of road rage never seems to go away. Drivers make mistakes for various reasons -- distraction, inattentiveness, confusion about where they are going or where they are, and so on. Often as a driver, you'll realize you've messed up -- say you've cut another car off, almost clipped a truck or frightened a passing cyclist. And you want to apologize.

Well, when you can't speak face to face with the person, or use both hands while looking at them, it's not easy to indicate you're sorry. In fact, in our culture, it's nearly impossible!

A single hand gesture would do the trick. But there currently isn't one that I know about. Think about it: We have common hand gestures to tell people when they've messed up, to express anger or frustration, to tell people 'where to go', but what about one that would say 'Yes, I know I made a mistake, and I'm sorry'. Think of the possibilities if there was one.

Well, I'm no expert, but I've come up with one on behalf of Because when you're driving you can't always look at the person you want to apologize to, nor can you speak to them, try this. Hold up your right hand, flat, fingers apart. That's it. The idea is to have a very simple, easy-to-remember, easy-to-understand hand signal that says 'I'm sorry'.

Don't use this hand signal when driving -- it only encourages road rage. Use the open hand to indicate an apology when you make a mistake behind the wheel.The completely open hand shows you're relaxed, in a sense powerless, and certainly is unthreatening. Raise your hand, open your fingers wide -- making sure it can be seen through your car's windows -- and move on. You can hope that the person you've offended recognizes the gesture as an apology, forgives you and gets on with his or her day.

It doesn't matter if your hand faces palm forward or back. You don't need to wave. The open fingers should express your meaning.

I think this 'sorry signal' would go a long way to reducing road rage, and to encouraging a higher level of respect and courtesy among drivers. It can't hurt to try it, and who knows, it could spread some peace and tranquility around the country.

You can be one of the first to try the 'sorry signal'. Let me know how it works for you by sending an e-mail to editor (at)

Bill Roebuck is the Editor-in-Chief of CarTest! ©2010

Posted Sept. 6, 2010

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