Signs

Worldwide we, the human race, have a thing for signs. Signs to warn, inform and advertise. Take a walk down any high street and you’ll see dozens of them. Keep left, no entry, buy this, our coffee is best, special offer and so on. We love it…. or at least those putting them up do.

We live in a bit of a namby pamby cuddly wuddly world though. A mentality within society has been engendered that demands blame. Sadly that blame is never ours. Any mishaps that comes our way must be somebody else’s fault. TV and radio are full of adverts I despise about the blame/claim culture.

Where did our personal responsibility go? We fear being sued and as we become increasingly litigious this can only get worse. So we post signs that for want of a better word “state the bleeding obvious” to disclaim ourselves from blame. I guess for me it started with signs on car parks “the management accept no responsibility for vehicles using this car park”. We have now progressed a lot further. “Danger of death” on electricity sub-stations. “Jumping from this bridge is dangerous” on bridge with 100ft drop to water below. “Caution. Lions may bite” at the zoo.

Now whilst it may seem logical to warn people about certain things where did common sense go? Should we have a sign over every fire that it will burn you if you put your hand in. A note around every dogs neck saying it “may” bite. Should we all have a beeper that goes off every time we stand at the kerbside.. “warning… death can occur if basic road crossing protocol is not followed”. How many warnings do people need?

I’m sure you too could come up with many examples of similar signs. The one thing that finally annoys me is the current practice by many local authorities to place signs at the side of road indicating how many accidents, injuries or fatalities have occurred on a section of road. Now don’t get me wrong. I worked on a road policing unit (traffic department to you and me) for many years. I’ve dealt with all those incidents and the trauma they cause. I’m all for road safety. But do the councils really believe that such signs are going to prevent the situation arising again. It is my belief that the person who is going to crash can barely pay scant attention to the other traffic around them.. let alone a sign full of statistics. There is a stretch of road in a nearby town. It too has similar signs. It has become a spot of many accidents. The local media have also picked up on it and it is promoted and known as a dangerous section of road. This section of road is subject to a 40mph speed limit. All the crashes have involved excess speed and often a combination of drink/drugs. There have been innocent victims who have died through the stupidity of others and my condolences go to all those affected. But lets just put things in perspective. The road itself is not dangerous. If you drive along this road at 40mph and comply with all the driving regulations you will transit without incident. If however, you believe you still have control of your car on this section of road at 80 or 90 mph whilst under the influence of alcohol then think again. You are likely to die.The bottom line is the road is NOT dangerous. Those who use it irrepsonsibly ARE, and invariably they often take someone innocent along with them and that’s the real sad bit.

That’s all for now. I shall be speaking to the powers that be tonight for a new sign in custody. “Banging and kicking the cell door may cause bodily injury”

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