Bad Signs

11 Sep, 2005 | TravelTdpGeneral

They’re fairly consistent across the world, little signs that indicate road and traffic status, telling you of a reduced speed limit or warning you of fog. In the UK they were fairly basic, limited simply to speed and fog warnings now, however, we seem to be coming to the end of an expensive makeover to give us boards with the ability to deliver more. Signs now read things like

Watch Your Speed


Slow Down
Queues Ahead

as well as delivering new speed restrictions.

Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that 9 times out of 10, the signs either aren’t up quick enough or are up too long, often meaning they’re of completely no use. You pass a sign that’s empty, run into a traffic jam, and as you see the next sign you see ‘Accident Between Junctions 9 and 10.’ You’re aware of this because you’re sat in the jam it’s caused, but you would have been able to avoid it if they’d put it on the previous sign. Likewise, fog. Either: a) it’s painfully obvious it’s foggy or, b) the fog has already gone. Either way seems fairly redundant to me.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I tend to take speed restriction indicators (i.e. when the speed is dropped from the normal of 70 mph because of heavy traffic, an accident or road conditions) with a pinch of salt too. The reason being that the number of times I’ve gone straight from the first sign to the End sign and never seen a thing far outnumber the times I’ve needed to slow down (in my mind at least). So now I take them as a caution, to be ready to slow down.

All in all it seems a reasonable system that is simply badly used. The thing is, if they start to privatise the roads, how long before the signs start saying:

Get a Tasty Burger at Junction 11