A Sign of the Times

Here is a scenario that has never happened in the history of existence: A person is driving down the road, sees a road sign lecturing him about wearing a seat belt/texting/talking on the phone, and then changes his behavior accordingly.

This has literally never occurred. It’s about as likely as someone seeing a vegan bumper sticker and saying to themselves, “You know, that snide, pretentious slogan on the back of that hipster’s car makes a really good point. I think I’ll go home, throw out all the beef in my fridge and then murder the guy behind the deli counter at Super Fresh”.

People either wear a seat belt or they don’t, they either text and drive or they don’t, they either carry on cell phone conversations in the car or they don’t. A sign isn’t going to change it. Yet how much money do we waste putting these billboards up on every highway and dirt road in the hemisphere? And aside from being utterly pointless they’re also counter productive. The other day I was driving along a short stretch of road and I passed under 5 digital signs warning me about the dangers of “distracted driving”. Really? You’re positioning bright, glowing, 20 foot signs in my field of vision in order to STOP me from being distracted? Hey, maybe if I could travel 40 feet in any given direction without being assaulted by PSA’s, billboards, alerts, reminders, speed traps, speed cameras, and digital signs that tell me my own speed rather than the speed I should be going, I’d be that much closer to our goal of me not being distracted. General rule: the more distractions you give a man, the more distracted he will be. I think Einstein discovered this scientific law. It was either Einstein or just any human being capable of basic deductive reasoning.

As an addendum to this important anti-anti-distraction sign rant, I’d like to also suggest that the government could save a few bucks by taking down the signs that tell me how far away I am from my destination. If I’m not going to Philadelphia, I don’t need mile by mile updates on how far away I am from it. If I am going there, let’s hope I already have a basic idea of the distance I’m traveling. “Wait. New York is 300 miles away? I thought I’d be there in 15 minutes! Geez, thanks for the heads up, sign!”

Actually there’s nothing worse than taking a long car trip and being forced to consciously contemplate how far you are from your destination. It’s like working a 12 hour overnight shift with someone who wears a stop watch and blows a whistle every time a minute passes.

Tell you what, since these signs are at best a waste and at worst a fatal distraction, can you at least waste my time and distract me with INTERESTING information? Tell me how far it is to Jupiter from here. Tell me how long it would take to bear crawl to Fargo from this point. Tell me a funny joke about Polish people. Something entertaining. Or nothing at all. Pick one or the other.

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