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Opinion on Federal Mandate for New Street Signs

Updated on December 27, 2010

Cost of Signs vs. Cost of Collisions

If you’ve never had the tough job of saving someone’s life, by responding with an ambulance when the night is void of light, then the new law to change street signs might seem trivial to you, yet here are some examples of what hard-to-read signs do:

From any given motorist, who must keep eyes off the road,

unable to adjust to changing conditions, stuck in read-the-sign mode,

threats exist to all pedestrians, who assume a driver sees,

unaware the driver’s attention has tunnel-vision in a freeze,

locked off of their current path, just to read where they might be,

meaning missed stop signs and red lights,

and hit pedestrians are reality.

Or what about the last-second turns that endanger the innocent soul,

who is obeying the rules of the road,

forced to collision by a directional goal

of the person who stared at the street sign,

instead of where all other traffic was at,

steering before being certain

that no other car would their gambling wheel smack.

Delivery personnel waste turn-around gallons and hours

because their ability to read from a distance

is not endowed with bionic powers.

and cars that slow down while approaching

any intersection, with their traffic light green,

increase certain risk of collision

when an address is not clearly seen.

To the idealist stuck in la-la land,

who insist no need for bright,

having never had the stress of responding

when someone’s dying in the night,

or trying to deliver flowers, packages, or a ride,

when a street sign is IMPOSSIBLE to read

from the driver’s seat, inside,

the new signs are a waste of funds

to further vex our state,

and the expenses from the sum of all injuries,

we should ignore to calculate.

We can all pull over in the magical parking spots

that appear for drivers who need more time to look,

so no one collides with each other

when poor signs, to the eyes, are a hook,

and all 9-1-1 responders have super-power eyes,

and have every street in the county

positionally memorized,

so dusk or dawn, night or fog,

fatigue, or heavy rain,

doesn’t require visibility,

to know if on course they remain.

A medic I know missed a street once,

with a sign that was hard to read,

and he didn’t see the car that came up behind him,

when to reverse was an urgent need.

He stepped on the gas to thrust it back,

until he heard the crunch

of the car that couldn’t escape

his accelerator’s punch.

Though he had no legal excuse,

reality is a fact.

Regardless of who’s at fault,

hard-to-read signs have traumatic impact.


Bradley Coldbrook

Former 9-1-1 Paramedic,

Taxi, Airport Shuttle, and Delivery Driver


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