Studies show we’re so jaded with signs, people ignore them, just as they do with advertising.
I get a kick out of folks who think signs solve all of our problems, excuse me, “issues.” There are no problems anymore. Would it be that simple.
If you have a security-service sign in your yard, beware. There’s a crime wave in stealing security signs.
When I was a kid, they had road signs that said, “Children Playing.” When the cost of signage exploded in the 1970s, somebody did a study: Drivers ignored the signs, but the kids thought the signs created safety zones and played in the streets.
Try now to get a “Children Playing” sign on your street.
The same happened to “Hidden Drive Ahead.” Is that a street name? Why hide a drive? The sign ensures you can pull out and not face a semi barreling over the hill. Maybe.
Another dead one is “Dead End.” Folks living on dead ends complained. Now it’s the perplexing “No Outlet” or the head-scratching “Cul De Sac Approaching.”
When we suffered one of our many crime waves, politicians invented “drug-free zones.” The easy and cheap reaction was to put up some signs. Nothing else changed, including the kids selling drugs on the corners. (Most of the “Drug Free” signs have disappeared. Kids rip them off for their bedrooms.)
I’ve wondered about the “Neighborhood Watch” signs. To the uninformed, in which we can count most criminals, these are confusing. How does a neighborhood stare?
Translation: “If you’re out walking at night, you’d better have a dog or we’ll report you.” That won’t fit on a sign, so it’s “Neighborhood Watch.”
We still have “Slippery When Wet.” Not all streets are slippery when wet? Just the ones with the signs?
Studies show we’re so jaded with signs, people ignore them, just as they do with advertising. So they invented a sign for the sign conundrum: “Obey all signs — state law.”
If you travel the 16-lane QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way) to Toronto, you will witness priceless road signs. I like “Hump Here.” There’s also “Rumples Coming,” “Manholes Up,” “Fast Lanes End” and “Watch for Standing Traffic.” “Men Working” has morphed to “Slow Workers.”
And then there’s the quintessential “Squeeze Right.” It must mean merge right but is Canuck chummy. We were flying along at 85 mph when we encountered it.
I glanced at my wife.
“Keep your hands on the wheel, James.”
Contact Jim Hillibish at email@example.com.