Safety Sign Nuisance

Safety Sign Nuisance

imageWhen does one person’s safety message become another person’s nuisance sign? By Rohanne Young, Director at Risk Management Coaching ( ) This article was first published here

I was driving to a meeting with a client the other morning and a sign flashed up in my peripheral vision. The sign said "Distracted drivers are dangerous" and was followed by another flashing sign which read "Drive Safe".

I found it somewhat ironic that a sign that was meant to warn me about not being distracted was what had distracted me!

I’m sure this sign was put up with the best intentions in the world, and not to distract me or annoy me. So it got me thinking, "when do signs and posters move from being useful to being a nuisance?" Or is it just a matter of perspective?

A safety sign that a safety practitioner views as vital communication, may be viewed by others as a nuisance sign. This can apply equally on the roads or in the workplace, and for many Australians the road is their workplace. In fact if you Google nuisance signs, it is amazing how many safety signs come up in the images!

If you look around any major city in Australia you will find a proliferation of road signs, neon signs and billboards and hoardings covering everything from changes to traffic conditions, who to vote for in upcoming elections or what’s on sale in upcoming retail outlets. Do these signs overwhelm and distract drivers or do we become blind to them?

If they distract drivers, then do they add to the number of accidents happening on our roads? And if we become blind to them, what is their purpose and why are there so many?

There have been experiments in Europe where road authorities have removed almost all except necessary signs such as speed limits and direction signs, and they have seen accident rates fall. So, do we need to be asking our governments to look at the current confusion of signage on our roads, whether we need rules to govern the brightness and quantity of especially illuminated sales hoardings and what benefits can be gained for all road users by keeping the number of signs to a minimum.

I find it interesting that this doesn’t seem to come up on safety blogs yet there is a vast amount of discussion on the distractions caused by having mobile phones in cars. Is this yet another case of being able to control our workers but it’s too hard to try and make changes outside our own workplaces?

If you would like to make any comments I would love to hear from you.

Regards Rohanne

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