I started thinking the other day about road signs. During the course of my time behind a dirty windshield I see a lot of road signs and sometimes, well, you just have to wonder about them.
For example when I am in northern Vermont and New Hampshire there are signs that say “Moose Crossing – Next Two Miles.” There are also similar signs for bears and deer. This brings up the question: How do these animals know where to cross the road? Do they have some special sense which tells them they can cross the road at such and such a place? What happens if they cross somewhere else, will they be ticketed? And who knew that moose could read?
Another sign which always perplexes me is the “Watch for Fallen Rock”, which is similar, but not the same as the “Watch for Falling Rock.” If you are watching for fallen rocks, obviously you are looking at the ground which means you aren’t looking at the sky, or at least in an upward direction. Now, if I am not mistaken, after all, it has been some time since I studied physics, but in order for something have “fallen” it has had to have been “falling” at some point. If something is falling it must be higher than where it has fallen to, i.e. the road. Have you ever seen it pour up rain? The same is true for a falling rock zone if you are watching for fallen rocks you aren’t watching for fallen rocks. Do you see the problem here? Who decides which action you should take?
And what about the sign that says “Falling Rocks Do Not Stop”? Are you supposed to keep going after the rock lands on you? Do you run over the rocks that have already fallen? I could use some clarification here.
I won’t even go into the “Workers in Road” or “Workers Ahead” signs. First of all, if the workers are on the road, well I’m sorry but they are the ones taking the chance of being hit and perhaps they need to watch out for cars. I also think someone needs to define “Work.” After all, I drive through many a work zone and very rarely do I actually see any work being done.
What I really like is what I saw the other day, there were signs posted for a “Work Zone Ahead”, one stating there would only be “One Lane Ahead” and a third one letting me know that there was a “Flagger Ahead.” I slowed down, eagerly looking for the work zone and after a half-mile saw the same signs on the opposite side of the road, which told me I must be out of the work zone and the workers had decided to not actually work that day. I speeded up, drove around the bend and lo and behold there stood the work crew and flagger. So, if the flagger gives you the death stare because you almost run him over is it your fault? After all, they aren’t in the work zone now are they?
Then there is the mystery of changing mile signs, not the mile markers but signs saying: “Podunk 5” which let you know it is five miles to Podunk. Up in Vermont there is a sign on one of the interstates (like there are a whole lot of interstates in Vermont) which says “Barre 18 Montpelier 19.” Obviously, Montpelier is 1 mile further than Barre. At least until you get to the next sign which says “Barre 9 Montpelier 11.” Does anyone else see the problem here? Still further up the road, the distance goes back to being one mile apart. Now before you send me angry letters, the numbers may not be exact but the distance between them is. How can the distance change from one mile to two miles then back to one mile? It is all the same road and as far as I know, there has never been an instance of a town getting up and moving. Well, I guess there may be a few that have moved due to circumstances beyond their control, but I bet they never moved back.
And by the way, there is actually a real place called Podunk. It is in Massachusetts and my mother actually lived there as a child.
Have you any signs which cause you distress? Let me know.
Going on a road trip?
One thought on “A Pontification on Road Signs”
My favorite road sign in Massachusetts (and it is only in Massachusetts) is “Thickly Settled”. For the longest time I thought it meant that the ground was packed down hard. There must be a better way to say that there are a lot of people there. And that is suspicious also because my sister lives on a dirt road with only 4 other houses and there is a Thickly Settled sign.