To BMW drivers, turn signals are merely a suggestion.
Start a thread or ask anyone online which car brand is most associated with drivers not using their turn signals, and the default answer is BMW drivers.
It’s so common knowledge that it’s spawned a whole sub-genre of memes.
Here are some of my favorites.
Level-headed people know that there are many BMW drivers that do signal, yet, the memes and stereotypes still persist.
Why is that?
There are several reasons, all that stem from BMWs history mixed with a string of bad press that continues to this day.
First, there’s BMWs themselves, the German automaker is known for making some of the fastest and best handling cars in the world.
Think BMW and their slogan, “The Ultimate Driving Machine” comes to mind.
Check out this older commercial below, it really cements the idea of what kind of car BMW sells.
It also takes a certain type of person to choose BMW over any of the luxury sports cars, and the data shows it.
According to a recent survey of the BMW demographic, BMW owners are mostly single, males who own homes (i.e. wealthy…by modern day standards.)
Do you think a single, male, driver, flush with disposable income is going to be the more conservative type behind the wheel, or a more aggressive driver where the rules of the road are a suggestion?
It’s probably the latter.
On top of that, the press isn’t helping, either.
Here are some of the most recent notable ones.
In 2016, a UK insurance agency found that, out of 300,000 drivers, BMW models appeared six times in the top 10 percent of the highest speeders, more than any other car manufacturer.
In 2021, Insurify dropped a list of the most rude drivers as defined by traffic violations (failure to yield, failure to stop, passing where prohibited, tail-gating, street racing or hit-and-run) and BMW 4 and 7-series drivers again made the top 10 list.
Side note, if your date drives a BMW, that’s a potential red flag worth remembering.
Despite all that, there is another explanation that only BMW drivers can explain.
Sometime in the mid-2000s, BMW redesigned their signal stalks to, when pressed up or down to signal left or right, return to a neutral position.
To the uninitiated, it makes turn signal use confusing.
Here’s a video of it in action.
“Turn signals have worked the same way for decades, and they’ve been totally fine. Why fix something that absolutely, certainly, unquestionably isn’t broken? And maybe more importantly, why fix it with something that’s counterintuitive?”
Now that we’ve established that BMW drivers drive “the Ultimate Driving Machine,” are probably single males, are often surveyed to be most likely to speed, among some of the rudest drivers, and have the most complicated turn signal stalk known to man, is it any wonder they don’t signal?
The fact of the matter is most BMW drivers do signal, it’s just that, compared to other brands, there is a large proportion of BMW drivers that don’t.
And, since they drive BMWs, people notice, further reinforcing the stereotype as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It also doesn’t help it’s been meme-ified.