Road signs warn us of all sorts of things. From playing children and falling rocks to icy roads and deer, sometimes it’s easy to block out these signs. Some people wonder if they even work to alert drivers to issues that could be on the road.
Studies have been done that prove some signs are just signs. Warnings of an icy bridge or deer might just be random warnings. Many times there is simply too much signage and/or random placement doesn’t help. Sometimes there might not be any ice at all. Other times deer are in a totally different location. This desensitizes many drivers so they often don’t pay attention to the caution of the signs.
This leaves some people to wonder why there are even signs. It boils down to lawsuits. If you don’t have a sign, and someone runs into a deer, get ready for a potential lawsuit. There was a report done in 2004 by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program on warning signs. They concluded there are too many signs which lead to drivers missing the point of the signs.
Many people claim the “Children At Play” signs don’t even reduce the driver speed in the area. This could also give parents and children in the area a false sense of security. Drivers might also start to think if they don’t see a sign, they can go faster because there aren’t children at play. It’s a two-edged sword. You either have too many signs or pose a false sense of security.
There is some research that signs do work. In Mendocino County, California, the mostly rural area added new signs between 1992 and 1998. They saw over a 40% reduction in accidents. How did they do it? This reduction could be because there was extensive planning that went into each sign. The county brought in civil engineer. This engineer reviewed every road in the county. They made a crash report for each stretch of road over those years. After the signs were installed, there were only 348 crashes, which was a drastic decline from past years. The county claimed this saved them over $12 million.
One reason signs need to work is that installing street signs is expensive. In some states it costs up to $75,000 per sign. Of course, this is the worst-case scenario. It isn’t just about installing a sign in the ground. The cost is about actually making the sign which is about $2,000. Then you need to buy the rivets and beams along with steel post and concrete for about $8,000. You need to clear the brush and debris from the area. Then you bring in the maintenance crews for about $15,000. This includes work vehicles and traffic cones. If you need to bring the roads up to code, the cost is even deeper. It’s also important to note many of these signs need to have special features. This is because if they are hit by a car, they need to be able to break away. If the person in the car is hurt when they hit the signpost, the person could sue leading to a multi-million dollar lawsuit.
It’s up to each driver to notice these caution signs. It could save their life. These signs are in locations for a reason. It costs a lot of money to install them so it’s important to look out for them.