Commentary: Masks and turn signals have things in common

By Peter E. Carter

I have spent the last month-and-a-half merely observing my neighbors wearing and not wearing masks, especially during the middle two weeks in July. A pattern emerged in my observations, but I shall reserve commentary thereon, lest we stir too many feathers.

However, I decided to do a simultaneous observation of my fellow motorists who use and opt not to use their turn signals, a device that is built right into the automobile.

It seems to me to be a true matter of caring and awareness. Most motorists are courteous enough to signal to their fellow drivers that they are about to turn left or right, so that the other car or truck can make whatever adjustment may be necessary to effect a safe maneuver at a given intersection or stretch of road. We know that, unfortunately, not all motorists give other motorists the benefit of the information that a turn to the left or right is about to occur.

Is it a matter of forgetfulness, heartlessness, stupidity or just not giving a gosh darn? I certainly cannot answer that question, other than to propose that maybe all four reasons and others apply. Certainly, we all want to be as safe as possible on Delaware’s roads and highways! Making a turn on a street or highway should not be considered a big secret to be kept to oneself.

It seems similar with the wearing of face masks! The slight difference here is that one has to make a conscious decision to have a mask with him (or her, although she usually does), it is not built into the face or neck as the turn signal is built into the steering column of a vehicle. With the instance of the face mask, we must make the conscious decision to at least have one on our person and then cover our mouth and nose with the bandanna or cloth or neckerchief or surgical item.

Allowing for the difference in availability of the two items, one is still tempted to draw a parallel in an “intent of use” issue. Caring and awareness are still the motivating factors, I believe. I cannot bring myself to believe that my fellow Delawarean would purposefully want to put his fellow man or woman in danger of becoming extremely ill or even dying. We know that by wearing a mask in a public place or in public surroundings does indeed curtail the spread of the virus by preventing the microscopic droplets from becoming airborne and thus possibly reaching the face or other extremity of another human being. It is just that simple. Similar to the reality that informing the other motorist of your intention to turn may prevent your car from hitting another automobile or vice versa. Bicyclists, for some reason, by percentage, seem more prone to signal than motorists, but I digress.

Perhaps, moving forward, we can all regroup and think more about our fellow man and woman, equally created as we all were, and we both wear a mask in public and use our turn signal when necessary in our automobiles. It really is not that difficult! We can keep a mask or two on our person and put it on whenever we are out in a public place where social distancing is difficult or impossible. I say, just wear it anytime you are out in public, period. Plus, some 10 seconds before you turn onto Landing Road or Postal Road or Second Street, let us know by using the signal device in the automobile.

It may be more of a matter of memory than anything else. Neither action is a political event of party affiliation or designation; it is a human event to save lives.

Peter E. Carter is a retired tri-state public school administrator and author of the book, “A Black First,” currently on sale at Browseabout Books and