At a poorly attended public meeting Thursday, the Hamptons Municipal Board considered new legislation suggested by Mayor James Hamilton to mandate the use of turn signals when changing lanes or making left turns.
The mayor said that during a recent trip to Amish Country he found the frequent use of turn signals by other drivers made it easier for him to anticipate when they planned to stop short in front of him, or cut him off. “It was awfully convenient,” he said.
Since the first horseless carriages took to the streets of the Hamptons in 1913, the use of turn signals by motorists on local streets has been optional, and no one—in recent history, at least—has proposed changing that. Mayor Hamilton believes now’s the time.
Trustee Brandice worried about the economic impact of such legislation. “This bill would chase the Range Rover drivers right out of town,” she said. “What would that do to businesses?”
For Trustee Richelieu, safety was the larger concern. “If nefarious people driving behind you know when you are turning and which way, it would make it easier for them to follow you home,” he noted. Richelieu was further concerned that the flashing of “blinkers”—as turn signals are sometimes referred to—would be an unpleasant interruption of the bucolic Hamptons life. “People leave the city and come to the Hamptons to get away from flashing lights,” he insisted.
When Trustees Barns posed the question, “Why not require turn signals for right turns, too?” the board hesitated, then exploded in laughter. “While we’re at it, why don’t we just require people to pull over to let emergency vehicles pass?” the mayor facetiously suggested.
The meeting was then quickly adjourned, with the turn-signal matter pushed off to a later date. The mayor said afterward that he will try to raise awareness and drum up support for the legislation by never turning off his blinker as he drives down County Road 39.