2005-12-29

Queensland traffic signs

Image hosted by Photobucket.comBeing the Christmas holidays I have managed to do quite a bit of traveling around the south-east corner of Queensland over the last week or so. I have traveled to and through many areas that I am not familiar with and so I had to rely on brief glances of maps before leaving and traffic signs while on the road. Unfortunately, traffic signs in Queensland are terrible. Being a long time resident of the region, I already knew this, but driving about really highlights many of the problems. Simply driving around Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, you notice quite quickly that there aren't always street names when you come to an intersection, also road signs are often obscured by plants or other road signs.

When I was heading North to Noosa, I would often come to round-a-bouts and have to guess which was the most likely turn as there was no signage at all before the turn. Often the signs are 20m to 50m after the turn, kind of a "congratulations, you guessed well" type sign or "sorry, you chose unwisely, I hope you enjoy the next 10km of unnecessary detour".

Although I always got to where I wanted to go, it was not without some danger because of sign placement causing you to do some last second lane changing. Sure, the locals know the way, but this is really very troubling for tourists.

When traveling through New South Wales I noticed straight away the doubling of speed signs. Excellent because you sometimes miss the first notification of a speed change. The regular use of the "60 ahead" type signs are an excellent warning of speed reduction that a weary driver appreciates. In Queensland, you are lucky if you are told once. I know there are some side roads that you can travel down and join onto another road that has a different speed rating but there are no signs to tell you of this change. I guess you are assumed to be a local if you travel down side roads, and thus know all the road speeds by heart.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comAlong our freeways we have these variable message signs that display messages like "wear a seatbelt or die" and "tired drivers are homicidal maniacs" or something like that. They also, sometimes, tell us almost useful things like "Congestion after Mains Road" which is excellent in theory except that the information is almost always out of date, the congestion is usually right in front of me, not 5km down the road. It would be nice to have some metrics like "estimated time to city is 45mins" and you could make a judgment to get off the freeway at that point. As they stand, these huge signs are mostly useless. Worse: they are embarrassing, the variable message signs seem to always have some sort of malfunction, with pixel errors all over the place. These signs look hideously expensive and yet their effectiveness renders them as little more than huge piles of junk mail advertising. The whole system reeks of lowest bid contract with poorly defined responsibilities. Seriously, at this point in time the city would have been much better off without these signs and investing in tidying up the standard traffic signs instead.