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« Inspiration from The High Calling | Home | Sunday Inspiration from The High Calling »

A Silly Sign?

By Mark D. Roberts | Friday, January 15, 2010

As I drive around on Texas highways, I keep seeing a sign that makes me raise my eyebrows with incredulity. It reads:



Now I’m all in favor of observing warning signs. But I have to wonder about the sense of this particular sign. Does it accomplish anything whatsover?

Those of us who do, in fact, observe warning signs, at least most of the time, don’t really need this reminder.

And those who do not observe warning signs would not be inclined to observe this one either.

So, no matter what, this sign is ineffective. Why spend the money? (I expect there is a reason buried within Texas political history.)

In general, it is a good idea to obey warning signs. In some cases, it will save your life. I think of a warning sign at Hanakapiai Beach on Kauai.  It reads:

[marks to indicate number of dead]

When I was at Hanakapiai Beach in 1985, 82 people had died because they disregarded this sign. I understand that two more have been added to this list.

Would lives be saved if, next to the warning sign, there was another sign that read:




Topics: Signs |

6 Responses to “A Silly Sign?”

  1. Evan Says:
    January 15th, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Mark, I am sure that you WANTED to make the obvious theological point, but refrained. Let me take a stab at it:

    One has to wonder if a similar sign had been posted near the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil if it would have made any difference. Personally, I doubt it greatly.

    Our human sin nature is such that we continually believe that we are the Bright and Shining Exception to every safety rule. Others need to beware. “I can handle it.” “It’s different for us because we are In Love and no one else understands our unique bond.” “I know when I am too drunk to drive, and I am fine.” Etc., etc.

    I have heard several accounts of how traffic accidents occurred, and often it begins, “I came to the stop sign, but there was nobody coming, so I proceeded and WHAM!” Well, there is a reason they want you to STOP before you proceed, which is why the sign says STOP and not IF YOU SEE ANYONE ELSE IS COMING, STOP, OTHERWISE, RIP ON THROUGH.

    Oh, and in case some harm is caused by ignoring a warning sign, the State of Texas has the option to charge you with “Disregarding a Warning Sign” on top of everything else. Just a reminder.

    Sorry you missed the “Drive Friendly” campaign of the ’70s in Texas. I don’t think folks paid much attention to those, either. :)

  2. Chuck Thomas Says:
    January 15th, 2010 at 8:39 am

    I know that your incredulity over “Observe Warning Signs” signs was intended to be used as an intro to a larger point. And it was a point that I am in agreement with. That said, I am not sure how seriously I would ever take a handwritten sign such as the one you showed, that announces 82 deaths. It looks more like a joke to shock and perhaps entertain tourists. With respect to how its legitimacy might come under question…would it not seem reasonable that one or two deaths would have been sufficient to deserve a more official looking notice of danger?

    As for the “Observe” signs in Texas I am sure there are exceptions to this rule, but generally those notices are placed in advance of what would amount to being temporary warning signs at sites of unrepaired guardrail damage, or pavement issues that have not been corrected. Or in other cases, situations, where a dramatically reduced speed is required due to a curve, or change of grade. And sometimes they are placed in advance of construction sites wherein reduced speeds will be posted and significant fines are imposed for violation. Your eyebrow reaction (genuine or poetic) seems misplaced. These signs that seem to offend you, should be thought of in the same light as those that merely announce a “Reduced Speed Ahead”. I actually find those signs to be quite helpful. But by your argument, there is no need for those either, rather, just the new speed limit sign.

    Whether, as the ealier commenter suggests, these “Observe Warning” signs allow the state to add charges to anyone who fails to observe them is true or not, at the very least they seem like a courtesy to drivers in Texas and not something that should result in one being incredulous over their being posted.

    And to stir the pot a bit more, the newly placed signs will now say “Obey”, not “Observe” so as to match the language of the Texas Transportation Code. Would that make them more paletable? Or maybe even make your original point more strongly?

  3. Ethan Magness Says:
    January 15th, 2010 at 9:40 am

    I suppose that it is a bit like my mother’s favorite line (and to be honest now that I am a parent it is one of my favorite too.)

    “Listen to me when I am talking to you.”

    I remember very well the day when my brother and I tried to explain to her why this was a silly thing to say with an argument very similar to the one you offered. We thought that we were very clever. She was not impressed.

  4. Camnio Media Says:
    January 16th, 2010 at 6:42 am

    I think that’s a sign from Hawaii.

  5. Barb Says:
    January 16th, 2010 at 9:28 am

    once i got a ticket at Mt. Rainier for driving up a closed road. Since I could drive up the road I did. later I said that if there had been a sign that said “$25 fine for driving up this road today” i would have turned around and gone home.
    Sometimes we need to know the cost of disobedience–just like that sign on the beach.

  6. ChrisB Says:
    January 19th, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Now someone’s being paid to go around putting stickers on those signs so they now say “Obey Warning Signs.” I guess some people were going to court saying, “I observed the sign, then I drove one.”

    But I guess someone decided that people need to be reminded when the sign says, “Curve ahead 45mph,” you actually have to slow down.


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