How road signs bring sanity and safety to the roads

20 January 2017 superman

How road signs bring sanity and safety to the roads

As you drive into work, you may bemoan the number of road signs you pass on your journey. However, signs are put in place to give motorists information or instructions in order to bring sanity and, more importantly, safety to the roads.

Road signs as a source of information were first erected by the Romans who placed milestones across their empire which let you know how far away from Rome you were. Directional signs at crossroads were introduced in the Middle Ages, but it wasn’t until the late 17th century that road signs giving compulsory instructions were brought into use. In order to reduce chaos on the narrow roads of Lisbon, the King of Portugal introduced a road regulation act in 1686 which used priority signs to give road users clear instructions about who had the right of way.

In later years, the increasing popularity of the bicycle encouraged the development of a new type of road sign. Where there were potential hazards ahead, people began erecting warning signs to let cyclists know what to expect. Later on, the invention of the car meant the amount of traffic on the roads needed managing, and with this came a complex system of signage which gave warnings, instructions and orders.


So, it becomes obvious that the more traffic on the road, the greater the need for signs in order to help keep the roads running smoothly. The more recent introduction of variable speed limits on British motorways are a case in point. When operators working in control rooms see a traffic jam, breakdown or accident, they can activate lower speed limits on the approach to the incident which slows everyone down, prevents vehicles bunching up in huge jams and keeps the traffic moving, thus bringing sanity to what used to be horrendously chaotic situations.

Proof that signage really does work can be found in Nigeria, where the press has had cause to complain about the pandemonium on the roads in Lagos which, they claim, is the result of inadequate signage.


According to research done by the Institute of Advanced Motorists, speeding has been the biggest motoring conviction over the last decade, with a massive 28% rise in 2015 year-on-year. According to figures from the government’s THINK! campaign, speeding is one of the main factors in fatal traffic accidents – a pedestrian is four times more likely to die after being hit by a car at 40mph than at 30. Leading one to the obvious conclusion, i.e. that road signs play a vital role in road safety.

Bringing sanity and safety to your farm

In the same way that road signs bring sanity and safety to the roads, signage can also help the smooth-running of your farm. Therefore adequate signage is an investment in your business, not an inconvenience.

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