Road signs offer easy to understand messages that tell drivers when to change lanes or warn about possible dangers ahead. When used well, these signs keep traffic flowing smoothly for miles. Unfortunately, not every sign is easy to interpret. Some are contradictory, while others look plain ridiculous. For every road sign out there that'll get you situated on the highway and onto the coast for an afternoon of bliss on the beach, there's a dozen others that could just as quickly get you stuck on the wrong side of town in the middle of the night, or worse. You could be pointed toward your in-laws.
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Helpful construction works often set up detour signs, guiding drivers around closed roads. This is seriously helpful for those driving in an unfamiliar area. After all, even GPS can get confused when several construction projects are running in the same area, leaving drivers stuck going around in circles. When detours don't lead back onto main paths of travel, it can be frustrating. Plus, it might even lead to accidents as drivers pull illegal maneuvers to escape from the construction labyrinth. This road sign might do exactly that, causing drivers to perform unsafe U-turns. The stop sign followed by the detour sign, which is then followed by a Dead-End, No Outlet notice all add up to some seriously confused travelers.
Traffic lights move cars along by changing who has the right of way. When the light turns green, traffic facing that green light can move forward. When the signal is red, it's time to stop. A stop light always means come to a complete stop before proceeding. When the two are mounted on the same pole, confusion is bound to result. Why are they together? Does that mean drivers should stop, even when the light is green? Which traffic control device has more authority? This burning question is bound to cause problems. The driver who stops runs the risk of a pileup, while the driver who runs the stop sign could face a ticket, or create a world of new and exciting problems. Maybe the sign exists because the traffic light isn't functioning. Either way, it would be best off hiding whichever device isn't definitively correct.
The beauty of a road sign is its ability to convey information at a glance. More signs mean more glances. Enough glances mean a driver's attention is more on reading signs than it is on the road. Not a good situation. This Irish roadside may not have gotten the message about how to effectively use signage. With more than a dozen signs packed onto the same intersection, drivers are bound to spend more than a second getting their bearings. Combining these into a few, readable signs could save a lot of headaches. Instead, beleaguered drivers, some driving on the left for the first time, might block traffic or cause an accident trying to decipher a wall of text, all on different backgrounds. Not a great way to keep the road safe and traffic flowing.
Once is an error, but what about when something silly happens twice? All those signs, stacked one on top of the other, don't exactly clarify the directions. At least, not for a driver who is moving. In Ireland, the brown and white signs are to direct tourists to local attractions. Unfortunately, tourists are the ones most likely to be unfamiliar with the area and to need to read the signs. That means frequent stops to check for directions. Lots of stopping adds up to road slowdowns that can affect traffic for miles. The locals might get fed up with the constant delay, which can mean road rage, frustration, and illegal driving maneuvers. In all, it might be better to condense signs or be a bit more selective about which attractions get a sign where.
The one-way sign pointing to the right, combined with a wrong way sign is probably enough to convey the message. Make a right at this intersection. Unfortunately, it looks like that wasn't enough on this corner. Sudden turnabouts or drivers trying to make an unsafe left turn have led to a bunch of signs, all essentially conveying the same message--turn right. Oh, also it appears drivers should be on the lookout for darting families. They apparently lie in wait to jump in front of moving cars. No doubt that is why the speed limit is only 25 MPH, and it's checked by radar. If pedestrians didn't dart in front of traffic, maybe this corner would be less cluttered with signage.
For some, poor construction or a delayed maintenance schedule could mean that driving over a bridge is a risky proposition. When a bridge isn't in good repair, or the weather could make driving on a bridge unsafe, authorities often close them. But, what exactly is this sign indicating? If the bridge is actually closed, the sign should be in the center of the road. If the bridge isn't closed, the sign should be covered or completely absent. Did another driver move the sign and head on across? Did the authorities move it with the intent to pick it up later? Who knows. What drivers do know is that the bridge may or may not be closed. That's information worth sharing!
This San Francisco road sign takes the left turn only lane concept a little too far. Designating lanes to control traffic and clear vehicles out of the way can help keep everyone moving. No one going straight wants to wait through a seemingly never-ending line of turning cars, particularly those heading left. If one left turn only lane is good, wouldn't three or four be better? In practice, maybe this isn't such a good idea. Drivers at the far left turn into the far left lane, but the next lane over can turn into one of two lanes. And, what about the next two left turning lanes? Where do they turn into? Too many options lead to merging difficulties during a turn and might increase the number of accidents.
What exactly is a double turn? Most states don't use that terminology. Those that do tend to use it to refer to two designated turn lanes running side-by-side. But, if a driver isn't familiar with the language, they might assume this means no U-turns. After all, isn't a U-turn essentially two turns in the same direction? Research shows that drivers unfamiliar with double turn lanes have a tendency to drift from one turn lane to another as they complete their turn. That's why some municipalities outlaw double turns, or two cars turning next to each other. Of course, since the only time double turns are legal is when signage specifically permits it, one does wonder why a sign is even necessary to prohibit this type of turn.
Road signs don't always show up on the side of the road. Sometimes the're directional notifications directly onto the asphalt. That can be very helpful in some cases, but it can also lead to confusion when traffic directions change. In this case, it looks like older directional paint was covered up with black paint. When the black paint wore off, drivers have no idea what the arrows are pointing. Forward? Backward? It's more than a little bit confusing since it appears traffic flow was reversed at one point. Painted indicators can help with traffic flow, but only if they are legible and readable, which this one clearly isn't.
Drivers pull up to a red light at a one-way street heading left. For anyone turning, left would be the way to go. After all, it is a one-way street, so turning right is almost sure to cause an accident. But, what about the no turn sign? It's pointing to the left. Does it mean no turns at this intersection? If so, why doesn't it simply say no turns? In fact, it looks like this is a no right turn sign that was hung upside down. Of course, diagramming it out, it would appear to say no reversing into a left turn, but that (hopefully) doesn't happen. Even if it is a no right turn sign that was hung improperly, why is it there, at all? The one-way sign should be enough to direct traffic to the left.
Proper use of the language is important when trying to convey a quick message using a sign. When words on a sign could use a trip through the spell checker, it can cause some pretty serious confusion. Anyone seeing this sign would instantly recognize it as a stop sign, but the misprint might encourage bad decisions. After all, it doesn't actually say stop, so maybe it's okay to keep rolling. That decision could cause accidents, and so could people spending a little too much time at the SOTP sign, instead of continuing about their day.
Some signs are totally opaque in their meaning. This particular set might mean almost anything. No digging? No traffic coming? Sharp right turn? A variety of directional signs combined with some numerical notes doesn't exactly convey much meaning. And, what is that a picture of, anyway? Do drivers need to yield to digging pedestrians, or is that supposed to be a hiker? The sign doesn't exactly clarify what drivers should be aware of.