The feds have been telling New York since 2011 that its new "I Love NY" road signs are too big and distracting, and I want proof. Taking a quick look into state crash statistics, the rate of car crash deaths per 100,000 residents did go up from 2011 to 2012, from 1.6 to 1.8. But then in 2013, it went back down to 1.5 and in 2014 sank further to 1.2. Since the signs were there the whole time, the evidence doesn't seem to support the notion that they cause crashes.
Neither does common sense. Of all the distractions drivers confront, outside and inside the car, slightly bigger and more colorful road signs have to be lowest on the list. Have federal transportation officials ever seen billboards? Have they ever driven on state highways and noticed how many people are on their phones while driving, not to mention eating lunch, putting on makeup, taking off sweaters, disciplining children, yelling at other drivers, weaving in and out of traffic, passing on the right, ignoring the turn signal doohickey, fiddling with the radio, yawning, falling asleep and speeding?
But yeah, what we really need to pay attention to and spend lots of money on is taking down road signs all across the state. I wonder how distracting that will be, as highway workers fan out to take down all these signs -- creating the dreaded and dangerous "work zones" -- and, presumably, put up new ones that are just a little bit smaller and more bland? How many accidents will that effort cause? A whole lot more than the current slightly too big signs do, I bet.
Will Doolittle is projects editor at The Post-Star. He may be reached at email@example.com and followed on his blog, I think not, and on Twitter at