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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Signs of the times

A question and the accompanying answers appearing on a television game show added credence to one of my beliefs about driver behavior.  I have always said that much of our aggression leading to road rage has its roots in time issues.

Most drivers seem to operate in a perceived rush.  That notion became apparent when the top seven answers to the question on the show, America Says, “What is the most annoying sign to see while driving?” were: Stop (number one), Road Construction, Detour, Wrong Way, Speed Limit, Yield and Deer Crossing.

It struck me that all of those signs were branded as “annoying” to the cross-section of America that was polled for the show.  And it was quite telling that a stop sign was the top annoyance.

That finding coincides with my belief that many drivers are in a false hurry, and resent anything that impedes their forward progress — especially a stop sign!

I can’t say I’ve ever been annoyed by a stop sign, since it’s there to avoid having a crash with cross traffic.  Maybe hitting a few red lights in a row irritates me some, but I’ve never considered a single stop sign or an occasional red light as annoying.

Construction signs and their close cousins, detour arrows, being named in the poll also hints that those drivers resent being delayed.  At those times, I’ve always been thankful that the roads are being maintained so we can use them on a sustained basis.

Now maybe being annoyed by a wrong way sign makes sense if those drivers are annoyed with themselves.  Being put off by seeing one is not very productive, though, since it simply means you screwed up and need to reverse direction.  If I were actually going the wrong way, I would truthfully be thankful to see a sign telling me so as soon as possible.

Experiencing annoyance over speed limit signs simply makes no sense whatsoever.  I guess it implies that drivers don’t care to drive slower than they wish, but there is no place in America to drive without having a speed limit.

Exhibiting irritation over seeing a yield sign again suggests that any delay in forward progress bothers certain drivers.  Similar to stop signs, yield signs are in place to eliminate right-of-way confusion and reduce accidents.  What would one of those polled do to ease their annoyance at seeing a yield sign?  Refuse to yield?

I can honestly say that I’ve never been annoyed by seeing a deer crossing sign.  In fact, I’ve often said that those signs should be on everyone’s dashboard instead of aside the road.  That placement might get the point across that deer can be just about anywhere.  When I see one of those signs on the side of the road, it simply serves as a worthy reminder to watch for them, especially in the posted locations.

In summary, I don’t think drivers should be in a hurry — real or false.  If you are regularly in a legitimate hurry, you should adjust your departure habits to avoid the rush.  Seeing normal road signs should not be construed as a source of irritation in any case, but rather helpful reminders of how to get along amid drivers and pedestrians.

Relax — most of those slowdowns are minimal when considering the big picture.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at