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Monday, July 16, 2012

Commonly Missed Warning Road Signs and Single Vehicle Crashes

As we gain driving experience we all too often tend to drive on auto pilot and start to ignore those signs that we had to learn to pass the driving exam.  We tend to look only at the "important" signs such as street names or how far it is to the next exit. We will, at the very last minute, pay attention to that "lane ending" sign creating a back-up for the cars behind us. There are so many signs on the road that they seem to become just a blur but the evidence shows that we are ignoring them at our peril.

A study conducted for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2009 showed that in almost half of fatal crashes involving speeding, the driver wasn’t exceeding the posted speed limit but was, instead, driving too fast for conditions. For injury only crashes, driving too fast for conditions accounted for seventy-four percent of the crashes blamed on speeding.

A couple of more interesting facts came out of this study:

  • In speed related crashes, the proportion of crashes that happened on curved sections of roads was much higher.
  • In crashes due to speed, the crashes were more likely to have happened on non-intersection or non-intersection related stretches of road.
  • Speeding-related crashes that were due to driving too fast for conditions were more likely to have occurred on roads with higher speed limits (50+ mph) as compared to other crashes.

What that basically means is that; although the driver wasn’t exceeding the posted speed limit, he or she probably ignored the warning signs and, driving too fast for conditions, was unable to maintain control in a curve and ran off the road into a tree or a ditch. Had those drivers not ignored the warning signs and adjusted their speed, they might not be statistics today.

Let's take a look at some commonly ignored warning signs and get a refresher course in why they are important.


There are several signs that indicate CURVES AHEAD:

Each of these signs WARNS OF CURVES AHEAD. At this point the driver should either slow or prepare to SLOW.

This sign shows a curve so sharp that taller vehicles could tip over unless they slow to the advisory speed of 35 mph.
Once you enter the curve, you will see the chevron sign.  Several of these signs may be posted in a row to indicate how sharp the curve is.

Several signs indicates how sharp the curve is and to SLOW down.


This is an "advisory speed" sign that is normally found on curves and interstate exit ramps. You do not have to travel at this speed but, if you don’t and have a crash, you can be charged with traveling too fast for conditions.


  • Both of these signs indicate that the roadway becomes slippery when wet.  Driving too fast could put you into an out-of-control  spin situation.

  • Ignoring this sign could put you into a hydroplaning situation.

  • Bridges that are exposed to cold weather, both above and below the road surface freeze before the rest of the roadway. Ignore this sign and you could find yourself in a deadly spin

Learn to watch for and obey warning and construction signs. They can save your life.

To learn more about Road Rules and Road Signs consider taking a drivers license  refresher course.

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