By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm
When we hit the road, there are a plethora of signs we need to recognize and understand. Some are suggestive, some are required, some are cautionary, and some are informational. It is SO important that we know which is which so that we can always obey the law.
We all know and recognize the red octagon, the famous STOP sign, STOP is NOT a suggestion! People running these, along with their electric counterpart, the red light, kill or maim innocent people every day. It is for our personal safety as well as the safety of everyone else that these signs are put in place to protect us.
Speed Limit signs that are white and black are law, but they also represent ideal conditions, if the weather conditions are bad you could be cited for traveling the posted speed limit so you always need to use good judgement as well. There are a lot of new electronic signs erected all over the country that will post adjusted speed limits or alert drivers to accidents or bad weather and all kinds of useful information that needs to be communicated to the motoring public that are very helpful. There are a few states such as Wyoming and Georgia that have speed limit signs that will change with the weather or traffic conditions.
There have been several accidents lately involving low overpasses and weight limits on certain roads. In one instance, a woman destroyed a historic bridge in a town she was familiar with, after the damage was done she said that she didn’t know how much a ton was. A ton is 2000 pounds and many roads and bridges are marked with Weight Limit signs telling a driver what is allowable. If you are over this weight and something as catastrophic as tearing the bridge down occurs you or/and your company just became responsible for that bridge. Most but not all trailers are 13’6” high which is a standard in the industry, height over that in many states require you to have permits and depending on how high you are they will also require pilot cars. Each state differs so you should know before you go. If you approach an overpass that says the clearance is 13’6” slow down! Some states will pave and not change the signs. Slowing down could save you the damage and enormous expense of such an accident.
Railroad Crossing Signs warn you of tracks that you are about to cross and you need to heed them. When it comes to truck VS train the truck will lose every time! This sign is even more important to trucks who carry Haz Mat or who pull trailers with low clearance. Getting stuck or hung up on a track could become a major disaster!
Orange signs are used to warn us of upcoming construction, they could tell us there is a flag person ahead or workers and equipment on the roadway. Whatever they tell us, take them seriously, road construction is a necessary part of life and the people who perform it have a very dangerous occupation already, let’s do our part to help keep them safe! Let them do their job and we will reap the rewards of safer smoother roads.
Then there are the blue signs, the service related signs, those telling you where the rest areas are, hospitals and gas stations. All kinds of things we need, restaurants, hotels, motels and other services motorists will need at any given time, that’s when we need to look for those blue signs. We both remember all too well when those signs weren’t around, it was much more difficult to locate necessary places back then, almost a guessing game if you had never run that lane before. Believe me, blue is better! We are grateful for those blue signs!
Another helpful tip is to know that the brown signs out there are used to designate historic places such as National Parks, Zoos, Museums, Visitor Centers and various tourist destinations such as campgrounds, picnic sites, theme parks and such. All in all, we have a very significant and helpful series of signs to help guide us along our travels for all types of purposes. You can joke about that old 60’s song with the chorus that goes “signs, signs, everywhere a sign, blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind” by Five Man Electrical Band. But in all honesty? I’d hate to think where we’d be without them today!
Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!
Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.