Follies and Goofs in Traffic Control (Signage, Signals, and Striping)
There will never be a shortage of mistakes made in designing and executing the implementation of roadway signage. Some blunders are more obvious and impossible to miss, while others are more discreet technicalities. The photo gallery below will show examples of questionable traffic control devices, including those ranging from the obnoxious to the subliminal. What you are about to see includes goofs and gaffes in not only signage; I included some problematic striping, pavements, and signal infrastructure as well, toward the bottom of the page.
Upside-down signal ahead signs are surprisingly common. Maybe there are red-green colorblind people on a lot of sign crews? Yucca Valley, CA, Oct. 2021.
The mixed use of uppercase and lowercase letters is reserved for use in place and road names. Text describing hazards, as in that on a yellow warning sign, is supposed to be entirely uppercase. Photo from I-55 southbound in Sherman, IL, February 2022.
This is decidedly the wrong merge sign to use, when aiming to indicate an incoming onramp. This is on Missouri Route 370 westbound near St. Charles, MO. February 2022.
I'm pretty sure this isn't the UK, Australia, or Japan? Found on a construction site near Lockport, IL in June 2016.
This definitely is not what the "Keep right of median" sign is supposed to look like, and the arrow pointing off to the right implies a diversion to the right, which doesn't exist. This is in downtown Columbus, OH. Taken April 2021.
This sign is a sideways side road sign. It's not to be used to indicate a T-intersection. The proper sign for indicating a T-intersection has a longer vertical section. Taken near Kenna, WV on State Route 34 in April 2021.
I couldn't believe this sign was standing alongside a public road. This sign sat on Parnall Road in Jackson, MI, just east of US Route 127. The photo was taken in April 2021.
Look at this squashed pennant! This sits on Theodore Street on the west side of Joliet, IL. Photo taken March 2017.
Remember to only go that way and to never go that way. Taken in Shorewood, IL at a Taco Bell along Illinois Route 59, June 2018.
It took me a bit to understand what was wrong with the route marker symbol on this sign. It's rotated clockwise by about 30 degrees. This comes from Bismarck, ND, on Interstate 94, in August, 2018.
A sign for the median posted on the right side of the road, where it doesn't belong. The sign that DOES belong there is right behind it, though. This is on Ohio Route 7 in southeastern Ohio. Photographed March 2021.
There are so many problems with this sign. First of all, there is no road suffix; you might not know that a number followed by "mile" indicates a road name, unless you're Eminem or somebody. The font is wrong, as it's Helvetica (which I refer to as "straight out of hell-vetica"). The arrows point down a street that isn't 11 Mile Road. And why would you post a sign 950 feet in advance when you could put one 1000 feet in advance!? This idiotic turdburglary sits on John R. Road in Madison Heights, MI. Photographed April 2021.
The regulatory "Keep Right" sign isn't supposed to be a supplemental arrow. This is from Ferndale, MI, in April 2021.
This inexplicable, misspelled sign sits at the entrance to Midway Airport in Chicago, IL. The font is wrong, too. Photographed June 2021.
I guess I'll just stop moving them? Darlington, PA, April 2021.
This isn't even close to the sign assembly needed to point out that there's a dead end down the street to the right. This is on Will-Cook Road in the Homer Glen area. Photographed January 2022.
If the curve ahead is so dangerous, maybe try telling us about it with something larger than this tiny arrow. This was taken in March 2021, somewhere along Ohio Route 7 in southeastern Ohio.
Thank you, Vice Admiral Sherlock Fartknocker. Taken on US Route 51 near Du Quoin, IL, in Sept. 2021.
I'm not sure what that little yellow arrow is doing there. It's not a standard size for a black and yellow arrow, and it's not the right application, either. Kankakee, IL, April 2019.
The stop sign is...wedged into the floor? This is in downtown Astoria, Oregon. Photographed August 2018.
It's just a little baby guide sign! Well, it might be normally sized for a surface road, but on Interstate 155, this sign is unarguably undersized. This photo was taken near Tremont, IL, on Interstate 155. Photographed March 2021.
I guess don't forget whose sign this is? Taken near Manhattan, IL in April 2020.
Just so you know, if you want to stay on Ohio Routes 60 and 78, you need to plow directly into this gas station. Taken in McConnellsville, Ohio, in March 2021.
This yield sign appears at the downstream end of an onramp to US Route 41. That means that the only feasible and safe way to turn is a slight right. The one way sign points in the wrong direction, a potentially dangerous situation! This was taken near Waukegan, IL in February 2022.
I think that supplemental right arrow isn't supposed to be negated by the red symbol. In any case, "no right turn" signs aren't supposed to be yellow...so where did that sign panel even come from? Photographed in Springfield, IL, in April, 2019.
What sign standard is this? Get ready to moo-ve over. Taken on Wyoming Highway 296 in August 2018.
Orange signs leading into the start of a construction site have minimum spacings mandated by state DOT standards. Those minimum spacings definitely weren't observed here. Look at this cacophony of signs that you have to read all at once! This looks like something straight out of a presentation shown in an MUTCD training course, on a slide entitled, "what not to do". This was taken along Interstate 59 in January 2019, right at exit 134.
They say to respect the deceased. Maybe we could start by learning to correctly spell the name of their homeland? Taken near Orland Park, IL, in July 2018.
It's already quite a struggle to try and read this sign without the leaves on the trees. I can't imagine how obscured this sign must be when things become greener. It's a junction marker for Ohio Route 376; if you couldn't decipher this on your own, I don't blame you. Photographed in McConnellsville, OH, in March 2021.
Kind of a minor nitpick, but guide signs aren't allowed to be red. Guide signs are most commonly green and white, but brown, blue, and black are also approved for guide signs. Red is not allowed on guide signs, nor are yellow or orange. Photographed in Clinton, Iowa, in June 2020.
This sign might look like it's communicating correctly, but it's actually supposed to be a pair of diagonal down arrows. In other words, the sign panel is upside-down. This is at the split that greets travelers as they arrive on Mount Desert Island, the island home to Acadia National Park. Photographed on Maine Route 3 in October 2019.
NN TS NN TS NN TS NN TS. Taken near Mokena, IL in March 2021.
Route Designation Follies
I'm starting off the category of "route designation follies" with my favorite route marker signed with the wrong highway classification. This US Route 38 marker sits along Ohio State Route 38 in Marysville, OH. It's my favorite botched route marker because US Route 38 is one of the few two-digit US highway designations that are unused! US Route 38 would be a fictional highway! Photographed on Leap Day, 2016.
This photo tries to point out the way to Iowa State Route 13, but they used a US Route marker outline instead. US Route 13 is at least three states away! Taken in Coggon, Iowa, in July 2017.
This sign in Cincinnati sits along Ohio Route 562, pointing out the way to Ohio Route 3, Ohio Route 561, and US Route 22. The US Route 22 marker was mistakenly downgraded, though. Photographed October 2018.
This is one of the two places in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, where a US Route 191 route marker is posted instead of the appropriate Wisconsin Highway 191 sign. It is indeed a state highway that travelers approach when seeing this sign posted along Wisconsin Highway 23. Photographed Sept. 2019.
On top of the garish serif font used on those street blades, the symbol used for Route 31 is wrong. This is Illinois Route 31 in Crystal Lake, IL; it is not US Route 31, as wrongly indicated on that route symbol. Photographed in June 2020.
Dumb Speed Limits
The following bunch of photos are a bunch of egregiously precise speed limits, which need no further explanation.
On the federal level, and at the state level in every single state, it is absolutely unacceptable to only have one signal head directing the thru traffic at an intersection approach. The single yellow ball indication comes from the only signal head at the whole intersection geared toward southbound thru traffic (the photo is looking south). This is on Arsenal Road east of Interstate 55, south of Joliet, IL. Photograph taken January 2019.
This photo shows a situation even worse than the previous photo; this signal has only one signal head facing at all four approaches! Three of these dangerous and inexcusable atrocities sit along Ohio Route 93 in Oak Hill, OH, where I took this photo in March 2021.
I have no idea how this signal head on the left got stuck showing the red left arrow permanently, but that's exactly what happened! Even when the green left arrow turned on, which it did at the correct phase, the red arrow also just kept glowing. This was taken in Plainfield, IL, along Illinois Route 59, in August 2020.
I think the intent was to put the triangular visors on the top section of each signal head. The bottom section probably needs the most visor coverage, since there's nothing below it to provide shelter from other sources of light. Taken in Bolingbrook, IL, in August 2016.
I'm not sure why this whole gantry was assembled with two large horizontal poles, just for them to hang all the signal heads from the bottom one? This could have been a monopole or monotube, then. Another potential problem: all the signal heads up there are the focused 3M ones, whose indications can't be seen unless you look at them from just the right angle. This messes up the ability to see the signal coming from a sizeable distance. This is the junction of US Route 71 and US Route 30 in Carroll, Iowa. Photographed Sept. 2019.
That feeling when you carve rumble strips down the centerline of the road, then realize you have to make the preparations for a left turn lane. Even the stripers couldn't figure out what to do here. How do you remove carved-in rumble strips from brand-new asphalt? Beats me. Photographed on US Route 52 in Manhattan, IL, in September 2015.
They put in this fancy colored concrete for the crosswalk...just for them to establish the crosswalk closer to the vehicle lanes. Taken in Redding, CA, in October 2017.
The zebra stripes on the road are indicative of a horribly stupid attempt to save the DOT money, which only could have yielded a tantamount waste of taxpayer money. IowaDOT must have actually forced a contractor to carve out four narrow corridors of pavement under the wheel lanes. This would have taken a contractor more working hours than repaving the entire road, and the contractor probably got paid in terms of square yardage or volume--meaning they worked absurdly hard and got paid a fraction of what they were owed. And this strategy of roadway maintenance is equally fruitful or less fruitful, when compared to a complete overlay.