We love road signs. As a result, they are everywhere.
Basically there are three kinds of sign – Instructional, Informative and Useless. 99% of signs fall into the latter category.
The Instructional signs are the ones that tell us to do something. Speed limits, for example.
There is a great misconception about the speed limit signs. Essentially what they indicate is the minimum speed you must do on any stretch of road. They also indicate the level of fine you are expected to pay if caught in an arbitrary speed trap. For example, the lower the number on the sign, the higher the fine. This system has also been thrown into confusion lately, as no one knows wheter the signs refer to miles or kilometers per hour.
Another sign which causes confusion is the ‘Stop’ sign. This sign tells you that you have right of way, and may proceed onto the junction without any regard for other road users.
Informative signs can be found at roughly 10 meter intervals. They include such things as directions signs, which are completely useless [as usually someone has twiddled them to point in the opposite direction], and hazard signs. An example of the latter is the ‘Road Works Ahead’ sign. This indicates that at some stage in the last ten years, someone has dug a hole somewhere. Similarly a ‘Road Flooded Ahead’ sign means that there was a puddle there back in 1986.
On crossing county boundaries you will see large signs proudly proclaiming that X number of people were killed in that county in the previous two years. This is part of an ongoing competition between counties to see who can get the highest score. People take great pride in their counties and will drive like maniacs to push the score up a bit.
Useless signs are used to fill up the gaps between the informative signs. They generally tell you about such things as the local radio station, or that broadband is available in the area. You will see signs advertising Molly’s Tea Shop, second turn left [closed in 1972] and that Jesus Saves. All these signs must be read, which is another reason for the high death toll on our roads.
A new form of sign that has appeared in the last few years is a very clever one. It is the trolley sign, and appears at random places, usually beside motorways. Just when you think you have read it, it changes to say something else. These signs have proved extremely effective and have increased rear-end shunts by a staggering 800%.
Another sign which is popular at the moment is placed at the entry to a new by-pass or new motorway. This sign tells you who paid for the road, what it’s called, who the architect is, and the contractor. In short it credits everybody up to and including the tea boy. This sign must aslo be read in full, and is the cause of many cars going into the ditch.
Of course, you can ignore the signs altogether.
But don’t blame me if you smash into a blind bend that was clearly signposted five miles back.