Alert Keys Disease readers will understand that this column may seem to veer dramatically from one topic to another at times; there almost always remains, however, a unifying theme. It’s amazing how things can turn on a dime quicker than you can say $#%&@*!!!

Take the iguana that’s lucky to be alive this week because I swerved and missed it as it ran right in front of my van. (I braked hard and said “$#%&@*!!!”) Now, no one expects iguanas to have a high IQ or to be able to read road signs or know to cross the street only at intersections. We do, however, have a higher expectation of intelligence for those who actually get behind the steering wheel and operate a motor vehicle. It never ceases to be amazing how often those expectations aren’t met.

In addition to being a cultural melting pot, South Florida is a unique experiment that combines the driving practices of people from so many lands onto our congested roads and highways. Whether from South America, Central America, Canada, Europe, Asia, or various other parts of these United States, people come here and drive almost exactly the way they did in their old locale, except worse. Today, we highlight a particularly annoying driving habit perpetrated by many who somehow conned a local jurisdiction into giving them a driver’s license. In that spirit, we offer the Keys Disease Driving Tip of the Day.

The steering wheel (big round thing in front of the driver’s seat in most automobiles) is attached to a cylindrical device called the steering column. Attached to the side of the steering column are various levers that may control (among other things) lights, wipers and the oh-so-essential-in-Florida windshield washer system. Also attached to the steering column is a device that remains unnoticed by so many South Florida drivers: the turn signal lever.

The turn signal lever controls these special devices on an automobile called “turn signals,” defined by the online Wikipedia as: 

“Turn signals (properly ‘directional indicators’ or ‘directional signals,’ also ‘indicators,’ ‘directionals,’ ‘blinkers’ or ‘flashers’) are signal lights mounted near the left and right front and rear corners, and sometimes on the sides of vehicles, used to indicate to other drivers that the operator intends a lateral change of position (turn or lane change).”

It is shocking that such a brilliant idea can remain such a secret to so many drivers. Why, just today, a visitor from Delaware remained blissfully unaware of the turn signal lever as he managed to bring an entire lane of highway traffic to a dead stop so that he could turn into Publix for beer and bait.

Just yesterday, a local with Monroe County tags accomplished the same feat, except that she was turning into Winn Dixie. But my favorite ones are the people who realize that they’ve just about passed their destination while driving in the wrong lane. These are the people — and we must love them as we curse them and give the one-finger salute — who make a left turn from the rightmost lane on the highway, all the time without the benefit of informing other drivers in the vicinity by use of the turn signals already attached to the vehicle.

Therefore, in honor of the most underutilized highway safety device, Keys Disease Central is proud to proclaim every day as Turn Signal Awareness Day in South Florida. We encourage drivers, especially those who are unclear on just what an amazing tool the turn signal is, to go to their vehicles, inspect the steering column, and make friends with the turn signal lever. Investigate how the motion of the lever corresponds with the actuation of the blinking indicator lights. Discover how the use of this lever will significantly reduce the number of times you’re on the receiving end of Mr. Single Digit Finger Puppet.

Very few towns or cities could ever claim that their Mayor was a smokin' hot guitar player. The island city of Marathon in the Florida Keys is one of those towns. While politics is a temporary call to service, music is a life sentence. John Bartus, a more-than-four-decade full-time professional musician, singer, and songwriter, continues to raise the bar with his groundbreaking solo acoustic show. It’s easy to catch John on one of his more than 200 shows a year throughout the Keys on his Perpetual Island Tour. His CD releases include After The Storm, Keys Disease 10th Anniversary Remaster, and Live From the Florida Keys Vol. 2. John’s music is available wherever you download or stream your music.