Over at the Crimson Glow, the East Coast’s fifth-best taillight-themed nightclub and massage parlor, there’s a group of us that meet every month to discuss important taillight developments, the general state of taillightdom globally, brainstorm new taillight ideas, and get really drunk. Normally, it’s a fun way to for hardcore taillight enthusiasts to exchange ideas, but last night was different. Last night I saw something awful. I saw what may be the stupidest rear turn indicators yet developed by the hand of man.
I was shown these lights on the phone of an orange-clad Blinkie (the affectionate name for the many turn-indicator groupies that show up to taillight and turn indicator-themed bars) who had seen them in this tweet:
Now, I’m familiar with Mini’s Union Jack-style taillights, and have generally been a fan of them, since they show a company willing to put some effort into/have fun with taillights.
Somehow, though, I’d never seen these taillights actually indicating a turn before, which surprised me. In my head, I think I always assumed that the Union Jack lights used that central bar as a turn indicator, which I think is how it works on Euro-spec Minis, and seems to be how aftermarket Union Jack taillights do it, too:
This is a perfectly reasonable solution. What I never imagined, though, was the situation shown in that tweet, where a three segments of the Union Jack blink for the turn indicator, and those three sections form the shape of an arrow.
Now, I’m all for arrow-based turn indicators, like the type you’d see on fire engines or ambulances:
These are clear and communicate the concept of I wish to turn this way better than almost anything else.
But that’s not what’s going on on the Mini: in the Mini’s case, we have arrows, but arrows that are pointing THE EXACT OPPOSITE WAY that the indicated turn signal is blinking!
Is there any way to not see this very clear -> shape as anything other than an arrow? Look at this mess:
Come on, Mini! These signals are showing a right-pointing arrow blinking on the left side, and a left-pointing arrow blinking on the right.
I get that the Union Jack shape, when split, inherently has this arrow in there, but it doesn’t have to be the part that illuminates for the turn signal. They also could have had full Union Jacks on both sides, and used the proper facing arrow for the turn indicator, which would have been fantastic.
But they didn’t. Instead, they chose chaos.
Now, I think the vast majority of drivers will understand what’s going on and treat them as normal blinking turn indicators, but these indicators hurt your brain, at least a little bit, and a turn indicator is supposed to convey an intent to turn in a given direction, clearly, and spread joy, and this nightmare does neither.
It feels like a deliberate troll.
I reached out to Mini for comment, to see if there was any sort of special reasoning behind this decision, or if they just get off on making everyone feel unsettled or something.
A Mini representative spoke to me on the phone, and this was the gist of our conversation:
Mini has chosen the Union Jack lights to highlight Mini’s British heritage, and has been using them for a while. With regard to the turn indicator light pattern, there should be no trouble at all for a driver to understand, when seeing the full rear of the car, which direction is being indicated.
Mini has not heard any concerns from customers regarding the rear turn indicators, and has in fact received positive feedback about the taillight design.
I’m sure this is all true, and I don’t actually think the design is going to really confuse people, and while a petulant part of me might get some perverse satisfaction from Mini being forced to issue a recall, and would have to make the pattern of the rear indicators something that wasn’t a cruel slap in the face of logic and reason. Maybe someone would go to jail. I don’t know.
That’s probably too far. I don’t really think these are actually hurting anyone.
What I do know is that a turn indicator that blinks an opposite-pointing arrow from the direction indicated by the turn is insipid, and I will not stand for it.
There has to be some standards of decency in the turn indicator world. Otherwise, madness rules.