Sometimes Road Signs Speak the Truth – 1 (humor)

Sometimes, permanent traffic signs almost seem to be designed to be ignored (and therefore lose much of their safety value at relevant times).  One classic example of this, in the lower 48 states of the USA, might be the very common signs stating ‘Road Subject to Ice,’ but in a late July heatwave it’s a pretty safe bet they don’t mean ‘right now!’

Photograph of a school bus driving through floodwater.
The permanently positioned sign on the right reads ‘Water Over Roadway’ and it would seem to be telling the truth at this particular moment in time!  Clearly this is a relatively common event at this location.  (Copyright image, 2017.)

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Does Mexico do a Better Job with Road Signs than the USA?

While instructing on an advanced driving course recently in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, I was briefly found it funny when I saw this sign but after a few moments of humor I was more dismayed than amused.  Read on and you’ll find out why.

Photograph of a text-based road sign that reads 'Draw Bridge Ahead'.
The humor of this sign comes from the fact that it should be just one word:  “Drawbridge”.  To write ‘draw bridge ahead’ is an instruction to get your sketchbook and pencils ready!  But using text instead of images on traffic signs is actually an issue that harms road safety.  See the accompanying text.  (Copyright image, 2018.)

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Puzzling or Inaccurate Road Signs: No.1

Unclear or inaccurate traffic signs, road signs, pavement markings or road markings — call them what you prefer — can cause confusion or even danger.

Here’s one from Colorado, photographed in May 2018, but what exactly does it mean?

Photograph of a road sign that reads: "In case of flood climb to safety."
Confusing traffic signs: What exactly does this mean? Climb onto the roof of your car? Somehow try to get to a tree and assuming you are young, strong and nimble, climb that? Swim for the nearest hillside? The ONLY safe message in relation to road vehicles is do not drive into water that is covering the road and is either flowing or may be deeper than it looks. (Copyright image, 2018.)

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Autonomous Vehicles? Traffic Signs can be Hacked!

According to Autoblog, university researchers “have figured out how to hack self-driving cars by putting stickers on street signs.”

Photo of a stop sign, showing digital markings designed to mislead an autonomous vehicle.
A “hacked” stop sign. Read all about this potentially dangerous development at https://www.autoblog.com/2017/08/04/self-driving-car-sign-hack-stickers/

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When Road Signs Can Increase the Danger – 001

Some road signs are incorrect for their task and others can create problems by not being located exactly where they should be (sometimes because the installer was sticking strictly to a rule book and didn’t use common sense).  But in this case the cause of potential danger is different:

Photo of a "Turn Off Cell Phones and Two-Way Radios" sign, too close to the construction zone (thus a danger created by distracting the drivers).
What to do? Switching off phones and radios is often linked to danger from explosives but if a driver starts messing about trying to switch off a phone this close to the construction zone, his distraction might cause him to hit someone…. like the worker who is walking across the road in this photo!   New York State.  (Copyright image.)

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