Friday Frivolity: Sign Language

Summer is fast approaching.  That is a time when we spend a lot of time “on the road”.  Here’s a Frivolity I wrote a few years ago about a trip “out east.”

There’s so much to see while driving. Even though I keep close watch of traffic, many highways are divided so I can also gaze a bit at the scenery without much risk of weaving into oncoming traffic.  On a trip to Eastern PA, I discovered that Ohio and Pennsylvania highways are divided not only between east and westbound lanes, it is also divided into toll segments.

I guess I’m really getting old and my memory chip needs an upgrade.  As we approached the first toll booth, I told Sue to get the change out of the glove compartment.  She responded, “Ed, you don’t use change for tolls any more.  Give me your wallet.”  You no longer need a bag of coins for tolls.  You need a credit card.

In addition to divided roads to protect sight-seeing drivers from head-on crashes, they now have washboard strips along the road almost everywhere.  I suppose they are intended to alert a driver when they cross over onto the shoulder.  No doubt you’ve rolled over such wrinkles in the road.  But, did you know that in some locales the highway department actually formed the strips to play a short ditty tune?  I have not yet experienced any noticeable tune, yet I think Pennsylvania’s rumble strips have the mellowest tone.

Pennsylvania is also exciting to drive in for other reasons.  If you happen to be a Demolition Derby fan, Pennsylvania actually puts signs up in good viewing zones.  At least I interpret a sign denoting a “High Crash Area” as a good place to pull off the road, get a good seat and wait for the next Derby to begin.  Pennsylvania also alerts you when you are about to enter an area where reckless driving is rampant…”Beware of Aggressive Drivers“.   Yeah, that’s actually a PennDOT sign.

On one occasion, just after one of those Beware…signs, I came upon a sign alerting drivers of a Duck Crossing Zone.  I was on the alert for ducks yet my mind did wonder if there PennDOT would caution the ducks…Beware of Aggressive Drivers — fly you dumb ducks.  Then I realized such a sign would be wasted.  With aggressive drivers in the area, just how many ducks could there be left to cross the road?

There was another sign which caused me considerable wonderment.  “Targeted Enforcement Area“.   If the sign was indeed true and there was such an area,  why warn drivers.  Wouldn’t that be self defeating for any Sheriff’s department in dire need of cash flow.  Moreover, it wasn’t working as a deterrent.  I was ten over and at high risk of getting rear ended.  The sign was worthless.

Another sign that isn’t worth the money to erect: “Speed Enforced by Aircraft“.  Who’s kidding who?  Enforce the law by aircraft?  What are they going to do, send up Cobra Gunship Helicopters to strafe offending drivers.  And even if the choppers only gun is of the radar variety, how many tickets would it take to pay for an hours worth of aviation fuel.  Once again, the idea of such a sign being a deterrent is faulty.  I’m thinking the warning sign needs to be augmented.  How about hiring a few kids to sit on the mountainside remotely flying drones to buzz speeding drivers.

Regardless of whether the signs are worth the tin and paint, I hope they don’t take them down.  After all, they provide me with many miles of entertaining wonderment.

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