Tag Archives: signs

Lightspeed in a Prius

The sign above says the turnoff for Columbia is in one-quarter of a mile. You can see the turnoff in the distance, under the bridge across I-495.

One quarter of a mile is 1,320 feet. I make the turnoff, in a Prius, in 8 seconds. That’s 1320 feet divided by 8 seconds, or 165 feet per second, or 112.5 miles per hour.

Either my Prius was moving very, very fast, on wet roads, or this sign is horribly flawed when describing the distance.

Highway signs and very fast Prius
This highway sign claims it is a quarter-mile to the turnoff in the (near) distance. Hah! Hah, I say!

Traffic directions at their finest

In an urban area, you learn to pay attention to traffic signs. In fact, the constantly cautious scan for some clue about driving conditions, because you never know when a one-way street will turn and become one-way going the opposite direction, or the Grand Eminent Statesman Highway will turn into Paisley Plaid Place.

But this traffic sign in Bethesda, Maryland, is genuinely baffling. The glaring orange is telling you to Pay Attention! This is important! The upper arrow appears to be suggesting you bend your car around a couple of corners and continue in the same direction. The lower one emphatically insists that you turn to the left, immediately.

The correct course of action was unclear: the road was entirely blocked.

Emphatic traffic sign
This sign in Bethesda, Maryland, is insisting that the driver wiggle around two corners and proceed in the same direction and, at the same time, immediately turn left.