Matrix signs

Shooting Parrots today has a post about an idiot common at this time of year: the fog light fan, who doesn’t know the difference between the rear screen demister and the little button that blinds the driver behind you.

Anyway, I’ll let you read his waffle about that and move to another thing that tee’s me off. It’s not drivers. It’s not speed cameras. It’s the matrix signs.

For those outside of the UK who maybe don’t know the term, these are signs randomly dotted up and down the motorways of the UK. They’re simple dot matrix things, usually square, made up of several light bulbs and can display various messages, often fictitious, sometimes wildly apocryphal. In a way, they’re like temporary traffic signs. Only whereas traffic signs warn against a permanent, known issue (give way, danger of frogs crossing, old people who’ll get trapped in your wheel arches if you don’t go over them fast enough and so forth), the matrix signs are designed to deal with temporary or emergency situations.

Sadly, they rarely work. I don’t know who controls them, but they’re either taking the piss most of the time, or they just connect the control panel to a room full of epileptic chickens and flash lights at them for a giggle and see what happens.

The resultant displays seem to fall into three categories:

Stating The Bleeding Obvious – “FOG”. Yes. I know. I can see it. Although for one brief moment, I thought there were 3000 Jamaicans at the side of the road getting high. Or the other favourite “QUEUE”. No shit, Sherlock.

Taunting – “40”. I’m in a queue of traffic. I’ve not moved for 30 minutes. I *want* to do 40. 40 would be paradise. But please tell that to the 185,256 cars in front of me who don’t seem to want to move.

Just plain wrong – “M1 closed J35 to J32”. No. It wasn’t. It was open and had been all day. Instead you directed people on a 50 mile detour down the A1. Why?

The one remaining alternative is for them to remain blank. This usually happens when there is a closed lane or something ahead. Let’s face it, they’re a great idea. They just never bloody work.

12 thoughts on “Matrix signs”

  1. On the A9, just north of Inverness there is a similar sign.

    All summer it proclaimed “Major Roadworks Ahead – Expect Long Delays”.

    On the way north, there was only one 5 minute delay, due to temporary traffic lights.

    I can only imagine the number of potential tourists who promptly turned around and went somewhere else instead of coming up here. And to an area which is mainly tourist industry based, this could have been catastrophic.

    Could it have been an Inverness Tourist Board conspiracy?

  2. Well, seeing as al Inverness has… erm… a Tescos (where I got the 5th Harry Potter book), a Warner Bros (where I saw something) and a quaint footie ground (where you can watch the matches from the A9) it does need all the help it can get.

    OK, so I’ve only ever been to the retail park and up the A9 past Inverness.

  3. There’s a section of the M60 that was built on marshland. As a result the drainage is really crap and the slightest downpour leaves standing water on the carriageway.

    What do the matrix signs advise? Yep, the bleeding obvious — ‘Slow Down – Skid Risk.’ Not that some numpties take a blind bit of notice.

  4. Is that near the SE “corner” of the M60? Yeah, I see them quite a lot. Often when it’s gorgeous and sunny and hasn’t rained for weeks, sometimes when it’s been tanking down and once or twice when it’s rained enough to water a single dandelion for half a day.

  5. Fog lights are one thing that really piss me off. I’m not sure about the front ones, but I’m sure the rule for using the rear ones is something like when a car comes up behind you and has realised you are there (you will know this because they slowed down and didn’t hit you), THEN TURN THEM OFF!!!

    The other annoying bunch are the ones who turn them on when you are driving behind them and it gets a little misty. I don’t think they actually realise what the FOG lights are there for.

  6. continued….

    Here’s a hint. If you can see the cars up front 1/4 of a mile away then I CAN SEE YOU WHEN I’M BEHIND YOU!!!!!

    I think you ahould have to pass a common sense test to own a car with fog lights. I very rerley see constiions where fog lights are actually needed and I drive over roads that are often foggy to get to work.

    And dont get me started on the people who put them on because it is raining!

    Anyway, I’ll put my soap box away not.


    Sorry, that one slipped out.

  7. Fog lights: Some idiot at Ford put the fog light switch in exactly the right place to nudge it with your knee whenever you get in or out of your car, and in such a position behind the steering wheel so that you can’t see if it is on or not. CUNTS!

  8. You got it, it is the SE bit of the M60, between Ashton and Stockport.

    The one message I HAVEN’T seen on the matrix signs is the one we were promised that would tell those selfish buggers hogging the middle lane to move inside.

    Oh no! I feel myself going off on one again!

  9. I always seem to find ‘QUEUE’ on the M1. This always seems to have the effect of causing the said queue for a vehicle broken down on the hard shoulder

  10. Ha ha ha ha ha!!! I remember those crazy signs and commenting on them like you. And fog lights too, but then I moved to Egypt!

    Here they don’t use signs or lights at all. They have men with guns to control traffic. You drive on newly laid tarmac to make sure it is bumpy. You drive up duel carridge roads the wrong way avoiding random donkeys and carts. The horn is your indicator that there is a car near you and lights are only turned on when you need to get past the person in front!

    It’s far more exciting here than the UK, but thank you for reminding me of home.

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