Changeable Message Signs, the bane of my existence


Last night on my way home the 91 East was shut down between Lemon and the 57, right where the changeable message sign is. It looked like a very bag accident, fire trucks and ambulances. I have no doubt that the changeable message sign was involved in it.

Going that way earlier in the day I know that the traffic was suddenly slowing down right there so people could read the sign. These signs always slow down the traffic, causing everybody to get on their breaks suddenly. I can imagine somebody reading the sign and not paying attention to the person in front of them slowing down to read the sign and then slamming into one another.

Not only do changeable message signs cause more traffic than they alleviate, they also are a traffic hazard in their own right. I understand the idea behind them, but they clearly don’t work and only make things worse. Sure, it’s nice to know how long it will take to get places, or that there is an unusual amount of traffic on an upcoming freeway, but they don’t help that much. When you include all of the times there is an Amber Alert or other wanted car displayed on the signs, or just a message that say, “Click it or ticket,” they cause much more traffic than they can ever hope to eliminate.

4 Comments so far

  1. Matt Jones (unregistered) on May 2nd, 2006 @ 9:33 pm

    Why would a changeable sign cause an accident any more than all the other normal signs and billboards and other distractions. Not to mention cell phones.

  2. Grant Henninger (unregistered) on May 3rd, 2006 @ 9:11 am

    There are a number of reasons changeable message signs cause more traffic than other signs and billboards. The first is that we are very good to tuning out things that aren’t relevant to us. How often do you actually pay attention to ads on websites anymore? Even if you don’t have an ad blocker your brain, for the most part doesn’t register that the ads are there. So billboards aren’t really paid attention to but changeable message signs are important to our driving so we actually pay attention to them.

    Another reason they slow down traffic is that people can’t read them from far away. Especially during the day, the contrast between the lights and their background isn’t great enough and they are hard to read at a distance. This means that people need to first get close enough to read the sign, then slow down so they have enough time to read it before it goes over head. This is aggravated when the sign is actually changing and people need to wait for it to cycle through its message at least once if they are to understand what it is saying.

    No matter the reason the signs slow down traffic, it cannot be denied, it does happen. CalTrans resisted these signs for years, I wish they had continued to resist them, now I just want them removed.

  3. Some Kid (unregistered) on May 8th, 2006 @ 9:48 pm

    Who’s to say this isn’t a false correlation? The sign probably said that BECAUSE of the accident, not the other way around..

  4. Grant Henninger (unregistered) on May 9th, 2006 @ 8:53 am

    The sign said something about the 57 being slow at the 22, nothing about the accident under the sign. And anyways, why would the put a sign up right where the accident occurred when the traffic had already been backed up for miles before the sign? That just doesn’t make sense.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.