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The Stop Ahead Sign
Scott Neal, January 9, 2012 | Scott Neal
I don’t use my blog to rant, so I’ll try to keep this to a complaint and not a rant. This is my least favorite traffic sign. It’s called the Stop Ahead Sign. The purpose of the Stop Ahead Sign is to warn you that you are approaching a Stop Sign, ahead.
Why do drivers need a Stop Sign Ahead sign? I don’t know. I know why drivers think they need a Stop Sign Ahead sign. Drivers think they need a Stop Ahead Sign because there is some unusual twist or turn or rise in the road that so impedes their ability to see the Stop Sign ahead that it makes it impossible to stop for it, which makes it not their fault if they run that Stop Sign.
All right, that’s enough sarcasm. But I think you know what I’m getting at. I think the Stop Ahead Sign is frivolous. It’s frivolous because drivers are obliged to drive at whatever speed is safe under the circumstances they are facing. If a driver is driving so fast or paying so little attention that he or she cannot see a Stop Sign ahead, then a Stop Sign Ahead sign is not going to have the desired effect.
But the Stop Sign Ahead sign will have some effects. It will increase the number of signs along our road sides, and the more signs along our roads, the less drivers pay attention to them, which is precisely the opposite effect that Stop Sign Ahead advocates were looking for.
Sociologically, the Stop Ahead Sign feels to me like just another sign of a permissiveness in our culture that encourages drivers to blame their failure to drive safely on institutions (cities, counties and state street & highway authorities) rather than accepting responsibility for their own mediocre driving skills and inattentiveness.
But that’s just me. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the new Stop Ahead Sign Ahead signs. Those are going to make our lives safer, for sure.