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Ruminations

Having nothing better to do on a nice, pre-summer day, I spent some time last week

parked near the Medway Rd. exit to the Milford Crossing shopping plaza to watch how many people would drive into what is now clearly marked "Do Not Enter."

While I did not count a specific number, I can tell you there were a large number of vehicles defying the mini traffic island and the curved curbs to enter the plaza –probably, because they always used to

be able to do that back in the good old Kmart days. And, it's hard to teach old dogs new tricks.

But, surely, there must be better reasons than that. So I set out to look for them by going to our omniscient oracle – better known as Google – and asking that very questions.

Google being Google, it pointed me to a 2015 article in the Journal of Consumer Research entitled, "A Sign of Things to Come: Behavioral Change through Dynamic Iconography." Since I was too cheap to pay the $14 the journal wanted me to pay to download the whole article, I availed myself of the free abstract as a well as another article I found that mentions it.

Here's what I learned: Drivers respond better to signs that show some sort of dynamic action, as opposed to more "traditional" signs.

For example, a "Horse Crossing" sign that shows a horse galloping as opposed to just standing will resonate more with a passing motorist. A "Falling Rock Zone" sign that shows rocks in mid air will catch one's attention better than one with a hill with rocks on it.

So, using that logic and science, I've decided to design new signs to replace the "Do Not Enter" signs. Mine would simply have a picture of the front of a crumpled up car that's been in a head- on collision. My signs would mean, of course, that if you enter there, you may be hit head-on by the people exiting.

Or, we could just raise the height of that mini traffic island up by about two feet – meaning people going over it will lose their mufflers.

Google also led me to a 2016 article in Psychology Today called "Death by Stop Sign." This article concludes that traffic signs in America control by telling us what we have to do, rather than giving

us the information we need to make our own intelligent decisions.

But, just as common sense seems to have disappeared from everyday life, do we even know how to make "intelligent decisions" anymore? You know, like the one that changed a decades-old entrance into an exit!




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