Road signs suck. What if we got rid of them all?

Vox:

Some cities in Europe are undergoing a fascinating transformation: they’re getting rid of all of their road signs.

For us in North America, this might be a terrifying thought. But we’ve all seen video of traffic, particularly in Asia, where masses of people, buses, cars, and motorcycles all seem to be able to manage. The video points out that where this has been tried, pedestrian accidents have fallen sharply. But it also points out how these traffic controls don’t serve disabled communities very well.



  • Cranky Observer

    Somewhat reminds me of high-mounted 3rd brake lights: when they were in test, and only a few thousand cars in North America had them, rear-end accident rates for those thousand car were about zero. Partially as a result of that trial high-mounted brake lights were made mandatory for all cars, with the result that in about 10 years… rear-end accidents were back to where they have always been. It was the novelty that made the difference.

    • My pet peeve is DRL. When first introduced, they let you see the full position of a car from the front in an instant. Now they blink when turn signals are on.

      As if we could ever actually rely on turn signals (or lack thereof) to show a driver’s intent to turn (or lack thereof).

      So now they’re much less useful.

    • Janelle

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  • DanielSw

    This is absurd.

    Road signs do NOT suck. People ignoring them for whatever reason SUCKS. Governments, pandering to stupid electorates, which eliminate them SUCK.

    No sign, light, road marking, etc. is EVER the CAUSE of anything. They’re there as reminders and automatic arbiters of which street is open across an intersection at any given time.

    I was an air traffic controller in the Navy in the ’70s, and the main principle we operated on was that we were there in an advisory capacity to enhance the safety of flights enroute and around airports. The ultimate responsiblity for maintaining separation from other flights always laid with the pilots.

    Extending this out further, there’s no way to “legislate” people into being “good.” Onerous and too many rules will only serve to create a slave state. And slaves, with zero responsibility can yet stumble around staring at their smart devices, oblivious to anyone else.

    • Mo

      Widespread deregulation is already gradually creating a different sort of slave state.

  • Mo

    In aggregate, I don’t believe Americans have a culture which can support removal of road signs.

    Road signs don’t suck. Poorly-designed road signs suck.

    • In one example, road signs can suck – if you’re unfamiliar with them. I remember driving in Italy and often having no clue what various signage meant. And even well designed road signs are useless with a population that will ignore them. So these “shared roadways” are an interesting idea because they put the onus on people to manage the traffic and not road signs.

      • Mo

        I assumed familiarity with the signage system of one’s own country or state. And even if some drivers ignore them, they still provide information that confirms GPS data.

      • Shela

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      • Or do what any conscientious driver in a foreign land would do: learn the signs before you go. There’s not a lot of variation between the European countries and there’s plenty of information online that can serve as a quick study.

    • Dolores

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  • Road signs in the UK are generally superior to those in the US for their information density and how well they do their job.