Thanks to exciting advances in auto technology the modern world has its own new set of challenges for the road. From rage induced by congested traffic to our dependence upon Google maps, we need a fresh batch of signs to guide road users through our 21st century problems.
Have you noticed the road signs on our streets are looking a little dated? Last year, some of our top artists radically rethought the designs of existing signs. But it shouldn’t stop there. We need a more practically minded approach to revolutionizing road signs, taking into account the changing culture and technology of the nation’s highways and byways.
Road signs have been a part of our way of life for centuries. The earliest road signs started when the Romans planted stone columns to show how far it was to Rome (all roads lead there, after all). Over the years they’ve become more sophisticated, and sometimes overly confusing. So there’s no doubt an upgrade is due, particularly to include some of our more modern day road problems.
That’s if there are any drivers at all. Driverless cars are set to become a frequent sight on our roads, and GPS could reroute would-be road-hogs into the ocean, over cliff tops or wherever that calm gadget's whim leads you. Where are the signs to warn us of cars being guided by mad robots?
We’ve already seen special lanes for slow pedestrians and this is precisely the sort of thinking that can make the roads of the future a safe and pleasant place to be – an acknowledgement that humans, whether they’re behind the wheel or on foot, are flawed creatures of habit and we need to look out for one another. For a handful of other visionary, futuristic road sign suggestions, check out the 21st century concepts below – then get your eyes back on the road!
1. Beware pedestrians texting
Until we reach a utopia where a dutiful dog accompanies every gadget-carrying teenager, it would be wise to offer drivers the occasional reminder that pedestrians might not have their eyes on the road.
2. You are now entering a non-Google maps zone
Abandon hope all who enter here.
How we laughed when they told us that a generation raised by Google would have no real-world initiative, sense of direction or old-school map-reading abilities. Now we may never see home again.
3. Terribly designed roads ahead
City planners are sometimes presented with the equivalent of a plate of spaghetti and expected to make a workable road network from it, so of course drivers might end up in a tangle.
It might help you manage your road rage to be forewarned of upcoming, arbitrary one-way streets and ring roads that look more like a work of modern art than a highway system.
4. Highly distracted drivers
When our parents learned to drive, the only way to let their friends know they were stuck in traffic was to fashion the exhaust pipe into a smoke-signaling device. Today, cars carry more communication and entertainment options than a smart TV.
Where would we even put these signs? Perhaps at 10-mile intervals, on all roads, everywhere.
5. Caution of road ragers between 8-10 a.m.
If you work from home or have weekdays off, you’ll recognize the typical city street as a calm and quiet route through which only a handful of people make their way to the supermarket.
When the day comes that you book a dental appointment around breakfast time, you’d best be forewarned that this is the hour they let the angry people out to drive.
6. Beware of cyclists from all directions
Ah, the joy of the bicycle! Fresh air, no license and the freedom to cycle how and where one wishes without a care!
Like a zombie apocalypse, it’s handy for drivers to be forewarned of where these omni-directional pests tend to gather.
7. Beware of cars from all directions
Ah, the joy of the motor vehicle! Pumping out poisonous gases into the atmosphere while idly rolling three inches from the curb, safe in the knowledge that the road belongs to you and that no traffic cone, cat or cyclist is going to put anything more than a minor dent in your armor.
Cyclists, beware of these machines!
8. Tourists stay on the left
As previously remote areas become more accessible, natives of far flung cities are learning to live with selfie stick-toting pedestrians clogging up their streets.
A slow lane would be an excellent solution to keep the local traffic flowing. Heck, why not make it a conveyor belt?
9. Take a deep breath
There’s only one way to maintain one’s cool and composure when stuck in a jam: mindfulness. And who remembers to be mindful when their fuse is inches from burning out?
A useful 21st century road sign will be connected not just to the city’s traffic networks, but to the cosmos.
10. Warning! No drivers in vehicles
By all accounts, autonomous car beta tests have proved pretty safe so far – and there’s always the option of a human driver taking charge should KITT’s behavior become eccentric. However, in years to come, the human presence may not be mandatory.
To minimize the fear of paranormal activities, you’ll want to be forewarned of the uncanny sight before you pull up next to it at the red light.
11. Warning! No electric charge points for 500 miles
Drivers of new eco-friendly electric cars will want to top up their wattage before traveling through areas that haven’t yet updated their service stations – even if their passengers insist they know a way to get an electrical charge using potatoes.
12. Jogger peak time from 6-7 a.m. and 6-8 p.m.
Our increasing obsession with health and fitness is a welcome side effect of an enlightened age, but nobody likes to be inundated with scores of sweaty, wanna-be jocks while out on their constitutional.
Oh, you do like it? Well, this sign works just as well for you, then.
So there we have it, 12 road signs to shift the 21st century into high gear. But with all those distractions, will we have time to read the signs? Perhaps we’re better off leaving driving to the autonomous cars after all!
Hardigree, M.2008. Americas 10 Most confusing Traffic signs. Jalopnik. Com
Roth, B. (2016). Dallas-Area Road Signs Altered Again; Read 'Gorilla Deserved It'. nbcdfw.com
The Guardian (2015). Signs of the times: 21st-century road signs redesigned by famous artists. theguardian.com
Sabin, L. (2014). Government tsar calls for ban of 'damaging' triangle road signs depicting 'elderly people'. independent.co.uk
McMahon, J. (2016). How Driverless Cars Will Take Over Roads, Hearts And Minds. forbes.com
Hansen, L. (2013). 8 drivers who blindly followed their GPS into disaster. theweek.com
NPR (2015). University Gives Texters Their Own Slow Lane. npr.com
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