If You’re Reading This, You’re Pissing Me Off

With all the signs we have to read while we drive, I sometimes wonder if we’re immune to them at this point.

Enter the electronic message board, which proves we’re not.

How does it prove that? Because so many drivers hit their brakes just to read the damned things.

So that all may know and understand, the following are conditions under which a driver should hit the brakes:

    1. A stale yellow or red light, or stop sign, within 200 yards
    2. The precipitous slowdown or obvious stationary state of the vehicle in front of you
    3. A human or animal of some kind appearing in the path of your vehicle
    4. Another vehicle’s switch from the lane next to you to your lane, without leaving proper room
    5. Your intention to turn, and/or, in some limited cases, change lanes
    6. Yielding to oncoming traffic

That’s it. If you do it for any other reason, you are on the list of People I Can’t Stand, and you are situated somewhere between pedophiles and used car dealers who do their own commercials.

But those message boards get people every time.

It seems they were first used for AMBER Alerts. It’s difficult to rant against that cause. I would be ostracized as a horrible child-hater if I said I got annoyed when I saw a light-up message board declaring that everyone needs to be on the lookout for this car containing this kid who was just snatched from his or her family. I’m not against this kind of information being broadcast to the driving masses. I do try to commit the information to memory in case I see the vehicle in question. I’m not completely heartless. 

But then, somewhere along the way, those message boards started declaring other things. And that’s when they got annoying. Because no matter what they say, there are people on the highway who will jam on that center pedal in order to read them. God forbid it’s a message that requires two screens to say its piece. “Oh, the sign is trying to tell us something! We must immediately create a roadway impediment and/or danger in order to decipher it!”

A lot of times, the message is something as urgent and terrifying as “Drive Safely.”

I don’t think I have to point out the irony, here. Somewhere, I swear, somebody got rear-ended because of a message board that said “Drive Safely.”

I’m not saying it’s bad to be an informed driver. “Accident ahead – all lanes closed.” Good to know. Thank you. “Caution: Road work ahead.” What else is new? “I-70: 6 mi /6 min.” Yes, thank you for solving that particular math problem. Now, can you tell me what time the train left Boston?

It’s the inane stuff on those signs that really bugs me. I suppose the local transportation authority and law enforcement agencies can use the machines any way they like, but if they’re going to insult my intelligence with a sign that says “slow moving traffic,” which, happily, everyone can read without braking- since we’re traveling by it at 5mph- then they should have to drive in a rainstorm behind someone who hits the brakes to read a sign that says “Caution: slick highway – avoid sudden braking.

I sort of loved it when hackers got into a few of those signs to declare that there were zombies ahead or that someone needed beer.

photo from allaccess.com

Today I saw a Silver Alert posted on a highway sign. A Silver Alert, for those of you who are unaware, is like an AMBER Alert, but concerns the elderly instead. Apparently, somebody did not want to go out for Mother’s Day Brunch. I hope they found her, because I nearly ran right into her brake-happy older brother when the sign lit up.

You know the one that really gets me? The one that just sends me into a solo tirade in my car at the sheer idiocy of it, while I steer around a slow reader?

$#%!

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