Sign of the Times

Murray Pratt Blog, Freight Broker, Humor, Trucking Leave a Comment

The Five Man Electrical Band sang it best with their hit song from the early 70’s

“Signs, signs…everywhere a sign…talkin’ bout the scenery breaking my mind, – Do This, Don’t Do That, Can’t you read the sign!”

Not sure about you, but when I am driving the highways and byways of the nation, I often wonder if the people who make the signs actually drive on the roads…or actually drive at all for that matter.

My all time favorite sign was on the highway going through the little town of Killam, Alberta.

It’s a little pit stop 60 miles southeast of Edmonton. Coming into town the signs reads:

“SLOW DOWN to 50 kph (30 mph) – WE LOVE OUR CHILDREN”

That big yellow diamond-shaped sign overlapped a rectangular green sign at the bottom which said:

KILLAM – 345”
It’s the mixed messages that cause problems when we drive.

I find the signs on vehicles equally fascinating, especially fire trucks.

STAY BACK 150 FEET.

You have to be within 50 feet to even read that sign. Some new driver is likely to slam on the breaks in horror at that one.

Or on the Sanitation Trucks. “CAUTION – THIS VEHICLE MAKES SUDDEN STOPS and BACKS UP” – you are telling me that on my local highway – yikes!

And you might say that I have to take into account the ‘context’ of those signs. These aren’t the situations and circumstances when that sign makes sense. Use your common sense.

So I tried that one time on the LA Highway System. “NEXT EXIT – SAN FRANCISCO & SAN DIEGO”

If you are student of geography, then this can be quite confusing as one is North of LA while the other is South of LA, and you are taking one exit to go North and South? (You are actually taking an exit to get to a highway that will give you the option to EITHER go North or South…but for now you can go North/South which was one of the key benefits of the end of the Civil War).

Every morning, I come to work I see some poorly designed or poorly conceived sign. Sometimes, I can see a situation where a simple sign is needed but just isn’t there. Perhaps they were going to put it up, but the crew putting the sign realized that the highway was now opened and had to run away quickly.

Locally, we are missing a sign that lets drivers know that this ONE LANE connects two major highways, and that you cannot use it as a merge lane onto the bridge in order to wedge later in the line. They need a sign that says:

“DON’T BE SELFISH, YOU STUPID IDIOT, AS YOU ARE BLOCKING THE SOLE CONNECTOR BETWEEN TWO MAJOR HIGHWAYS.”

Instead they could say:

“LOOK FOR SEMI COMING UP FAST BEHIND YOU – YOU CAN EXIT or YOU CAN BE EXITED” 

Ideally further on you should see a sign that reads…

“WE UNDERSTAND YOUR MISTAKE…THE GUY WHO DESIGNED THIS CONNECTOR DID IT WITH HIS ETCH-A-SKETCH”

You see, if you don’t drive, or even have someone out there driving each day to test out the signage, then you will have traffic jams and even collisions that could cost people their lives.

It’s like people creating trucking software and freight brokerage software who have never been in a truck or done any freight brokering.

There is a difference in life between ‘thinkin’ and ‘knowin’ what to do.

I am just glad to work for a software company that knows what trucking companies need from their trucking software and what freight brokers need from their freight broker software, working with colleagues who understand the industry and its people.

Looks like I am coming to the end of this blog, looking for an exit…

STOP…I mean EXIT LEFT…no RIGHT.

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