With car manufacturers battling it out over an ever diminishing pot of new car buyers, they are being forced to offer ever increasing incentives to sell their product. Not even the lowliest model car in the UK will sell today without satellite navigation as a standard option, and for those with older cars, or no need for private transportation at all, there are independent, PC, hand held and mobile phone options to choose from. Indeed, it seems that everyone should know, not only where they are going, but how they are getting there.
I, myself, could have benefited from using the on-board navigation system that was supplied with the car I hired on recent trip back to the UK. Coming from the far south west of the country, negotiating the roadworks that the Department of Transport would have you believe is the M25, was quite a daunting affair. But I was tired, and just wanted to get to my destination, so the satellite orbiting above me was left to its own devices. With hindsight, I wish had taken the time to work it out, and taken a different route altogether.
It was late at night when I arrived at Stansted Airport, and the motorway was, as I had hoped, eerily quiet. The first stretch of motorway, the M11, was smooth and calm, and I began to relax, but my peace was soon broached as I approached the M25. This was not that great a surprise to me. I have travelled this road numerous times and knew to slow down, and merely follow the diversion signs.
In the seven years I had been away, someone had been making a lot of money selling road signs to the Government. Even if it were rush hour, I swear there would have been more road signs than vehicles parked up in the morning traffic, and whilst it is reassuring to know that the people who ensure that the necessary warning signs are put up in the right location, are looking after my safety, the fact that I had no idea which sign was relevant to where it was I was being diverted to, was probably not lost on them.
And so it was for the duration of my journey along the M25. Trundling along, at 45 miles per hour, wondering if I had been teleported, car and all, to some twilight reflective Las Vegas. The most disconcerting thing was that there were so many signs, I metaphorically closed my eyes and drove on as I would normally. Just way too much information. I suspect the idea was to get me to reduce my speed, but as I travelled past more and more warning signs informing me of imminent dangers that never transpired, I carried on as if they were not there at all.
There is a bridge in Peterborough with 54 road signs. After one further accident, rather than seeing sense and thinking that it might be the proliferation of road signs themselves that cause the accidents, they proceeded to add yet more.
It cannot be safe, all these road signs. Retrofitting all vehicles with GPS would enable us to recycle millions of tons of valuable aluminium, and more importantly, it might just reduce fatal accidents.