Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Somebody Messed With Texas

We drove from the Austin area to the Texas coast this weekend for a mini-vacation, and along the way I got to see my favorite Texas sign of all time:

I love this sign because it's so utterly pointless. If someone's not observing warning signs, then guess what? They're not going to observe this warning sign, either!

I weep when I think of the time and money spent first proposing and passing this idiotic law, and then having to make and erect the signs which only those who are already looking at signs are going to see.

Now, it would be easy to simply leave this entire issue with "What a dumb law", but that's not why I get paid the big blogging bucks. Oh no, my friend, I get paid the big blogging bucks to think beyond the first level of idiocy, to explore how this kind of thing reverberates throughout the idiocracy, to examine every possible permutation of how stupid can infect everything around it, even unto the last generation.

For instance:

  • If this is in fact a completely separate law, why doesn't everyone who breaks a traffic ordinance get two tickets, one for breaking the first law and one for not observing the sign warning them about the law they were breaking?

  • If we didn't have the law about observing traffic signs, would it then be legal to violate the laws marked by the signs?

  • Is the law only that you have to observe the sign, but not actually obey what it tells you?
    - "You were going 110 in a 35, son, didn't you see that speed limit sign?"
    - "Why yes I did, officer, since I am a good Texas citizen I always make it a point to observe every warning sign. I ignored it, but I definitely observed it."
    - "Ah, well then, have a good day."

  • Does this law apply to blind people? After all, they can't observe the signs at all. Of course, if you have a bunch of blind people driving around, probably their lack of sign observationing is the least of your worries.

In any event, it was difficult not to swerve the truck onto the shoulder to smash the sign down, just to see if the arresting officer would give me one ticket or two when I said, "Gosh I'm sorry, sir, I just didn't observe it there."


Allen said...

I wonder how many people were on the committee to decide what size font and what colors that sign should contain. :-)

Now, if "ignorance of the law is no excuse," then why do they even need signs in the first place?

Officer: "The reason I pulled you over today was because you were going 45 in a 35."

Citizen: "Sir, I didn't observe a speed limit sign."

Officer: "The speed limit for this stretch of road has been clearly listed on our website. You should have checked that before you left home."

And... waitaminit! What law sez you have to obey all the other laws? Is breaking the law against the law? How will we know without a law that explicitly spells out: "Observe all state laws. STATE LAW."

...and we'll need another law to cover that one. And so on.

Rob Rogers said...

Pretty stupid stuff (Texas, not you). I've wondered at these signs before, too. My conclusion was that they were there because of what I think is a difference in laws between some states.

If I remember my driving school lessons in Tennessee, some warning signs were suggestions, but not enforceable. This actually makes more sense than it sounds at first blush--if you're on a 50 mph road, and there's a sign that says "Curve Ahead, 35 mph" then you probably should slow down to 35, but you won't actually get a ticket unless you're going over the posted speed of 50.

My guess from these signs is that if you're in Texas, a "Curve Ahead, 35 mph" sign can really be enforceable down to 35.

Or maybe I'm overthinking things.

I'm generally underwhelmed by Texas's use of signage. Way too often, signs are placed poorly (like "lane ending" signs placed either way to early or way too late, or "right turn only" signs placed just before the intersection when you've got like no chance in hell of getting over). Plus, there are certain police officers--one in particular in The Colony, where I live--who find places where the posted regulations are so stupid that everyone ignores them, then rack up a hell of a lot of tickets by catching as many people as possible ignoring the rule. (Examples of these include a wide six-lane road that's marked at 45 when it should be a 55, or an exit out of a Wal-Mart where you should be able to go straight, but instead are forced to make a right-hand turn that's likely to take you at least a mile out of the way if you don't know the trick of driving to another exit.) Grrrr.

Denise said...

This is a law only my brother-in-law, Jimmy Mac, can explain. It seems that warning signs are only suggestions in certain states. I think they have to be on orange signs, but we always refer to said signs as pointed out as "mere suggestions -- Uncle Jimmy said so."