What Pisses Me Off: Road work signs 136

What pisses me off


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One of the things that cheeses me off when I’m driving, is the way the road authorities – you know, the people responsible for keeping our highways up to standard (and that’s another moan!) – leave their signs all over the place, when they’re not actually doing anything!

I’m sure you know what I mean; you’re driving along a quiet country road, high shrubs and trees on both sides and you come to a curve. There, on the side curb is a sign saying, “40km limit ahead”, so you begin to slow down because you can’t see round the bend. About 50 metres further on, you pass another sign, repeating the 40kph warning and also saying “Prepare to stop at lights”. You carry on along this winding bit of road, wondering when the lights are going to hove into view, keeping your speed down and your foot on the brake, until a kilometre later, when you see the next sign in the sequence – this one says, “End of roadworks – 100kph”, or similar, often with a cheeky note added at the bottom, “Thank you for driving carefully”! And there has usually been no sign of work in the affected area, not even a patch of new tarmac to show where they have been!

This scenario and others very much like it occur at all too frequent intervals on our roads, and I believe the habit could prove to be dangerous in the right circumstances. The trouble is, we have all become too blasé about these roadwork signs, to the extent that many drivers fail to slow down at all when they pass them, because the above sequence has happened to them so many times, and they become sure it is just happening again! In other words the signs, meant to provide a safe environment around some road-work, are no longer believed and so they are ignored. This can result in a car, traveling at full speed or near it, rounding a curve after passing several warning signs, only to find a set of traffic lights about thirty metres in front of him, guarding a single lane of road, showing a red light, and about five vehicles coming the other way, not yet having pulled back over to their side of the road. Add to that the possibility of the road surface being wet and slippery due to recent rain, and you have a possible recipe for disaster!

It’s my contention that highway authorities should be forced to remove all signs similar to those mentioned above, when work is not actually being carried out at that particular time. Local and highway authorities should be subject to heavy penalties if they are found to be ignoring this requirement, then maybe, if we are lucky, all those people who don’t trust the signs at present will start to believe them and adjust their speed accordingly.

I’m sure I’m in cuckoo land hoping that something like this might actually come about, but it still pisses me off and I felt I had to get it off my chest. The trouble is, I am as much to blame as any other motorist who doesn’t drop his speed to 40kph, or whatever else is specified, though I do claim that I always slow down a bit, say to 60kph, but even this may be too fast in some circumstances.

So please highway authorities, at whatever level, make certain your signs are out only when they are genuinely needed because work is in progress – I have even passed signs still standing there, despite the fact that I know the work was completed several months previously. This is just not good enough!


Do you agree with Brian?

Brian Lee

  1. Yes & you will still be booked if you don’t adhere to them – even though they are not actually working on certain days ie public Holidays Xmas Easter Sundays

  2. In USA, too!!! Such a waste of taxpayers money, and after the construction is done, the signs are left by the side of the road for years…

  3. Why not just adhere to them, what’s the problem?

    2 REPLY
    • Because when you are travelling long distances and these signs are every 20klms and go for a 5klm distance, they can add hours to your trip and frustration. When there is four hours normal drive between towns and you have 2 unnecessary hours added on, the frustration turns into anger and road rage for many people.

  4. And I though this only happened in NZ. (30kph) Sometimes wonder if these are placed as a trap for traffic dept to build on there revenue.

  5. Brian makes a good point. Some years ago, before high viz colours where developed, we were warned that the overuse of yellow and red as an alert to danger would cause colour fatigue and that they would no longer register as a danger warning. The same seems to be happening with high viz. I worked in retail and found that there was an endless stream of customers wearing high viz. The roads have endless rows of orange cones, often for no apparent reason or for some insignificant supposed danger and that is sometimes not even on the same road. I have realized that these colours and the cones sometimes no longer register with me as being out of the ordinary, i.e. colour fatigue.

  6. If they have to have a meal break etc etc the cost factor of covering the signs and then removing them again would have to be enormous, just one reason during working hours that they stay up. Also remember a lot of these people work for contractors not the government.

    2 REPLY
    • Leaving them there during working hours and meal breaks is understandable. Leaving them when there are no workers,it is after hours or weekends etc and the road is safe to drive on is not. Brian is talking about that sort of thing – everyone obeys when someone is standing with a go slow sign and work is happening.

    • I wasn’t actual referring to the signs left up during meal breaks, etc., when the work is obviously still going on. It’s when they are left there, for weeks sometimes, after a job has been finished!

  7. Good point mate equally as the motorist can be fined, so too should the roadwork companies if they leave their signs after the work is completed. I have seen signs in place with the work long since done here in Taranaki and it really pisses me off.

  8. Yes, and they go mad with traffic cones here, miles of them, that get blown over by passing trucks an create driving hazzards for following cars.. Worst is the stupidity of the some signs, I am sure the people putting then out cant read or think. e.g. New road works up the road from here, “Danger No Road Marking” when anyone with reasonable vision can see the broken yellow line around the corners and the white lane marking and also a plethora of hazzard signs. Or another while driving on the side road reads, ” Warning Road Works on Side Road” When you get there the road works are clearly on the main road not the side street. And they wonder why people take little notice of signs.

  9. My son works on the roads and if the signs and cones helps keep him safe then so be it He says you wouldn’t believe the stupid things people do on the roads

    2 REPLY
    • I don’t think anyone objects while work is being carried out but they remain in place 24 hours a day for weeks/months on end when clearly there is not a worker in sight. I think that puts him in at greater risk as people get complacent and ignore the signs?

    • As I said, signs while work is still going on – fine! But when they are left there long after the work is completed, they can become a hazard themselves

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