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Slow or Stop, that is the question

I have a problem with the construction workers routing traffic. They (at least in NH) hold up a sign that displays either “slow” or “stop”.

The problem is that the colors and sizes are the same for the two, and the words are similar, so that it’s easy to be unsure of which one is displayed.

What made it worse for me today, as I was slowing down approaching the worker (my lane was blocked), unsure of the sign, the pickup truck behind me pulled out over the double line and started to pass me. I had to signal him frantically (at that point I had determined the sign was “slow”) so I could pull out.

Bottom line, the signs could be and should be much easier to distinguish. Just a different color would help. Red for the “stop” and yellow for the “slow”, for example.


Around here, the stop side is red.

I don’t know where you travel in NH. But I drive through them every day. The stop is RED and the slow is YELLOW.

Mike, perhaps I didn’t notice the colors. But bottom line, I didn’t know if it was “slow” or “stop” initially and had to approach closer to determine it.

These are what I’ve seen:

those are totally different from the one’s I see. But I can’t find an example, short of driving back to the construction area and watching the signs.

Around here the signs must meet the standard indicated by the above example.
However, if the sun is going down behind the worker it can be impossible to tell which octagonal sign you’re looking at. I agree that they should be better, perhaps with red and yellow blinking LEDs that say STOP or SLOW. Having used blinking LEDs back in my cycling days, I can testify that they’re extremely visible and go many, many hours on a few AAA batteries.

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Older signs get dirty and fade. Still, I have not had trouble distinguishing between the two. If you have trouble distinguishing between the two, maybe you should have your eyes checked. I had a prescription change about a year ago, and it was a noticeable improvement.

The only thing that I can add to this discussion is that, if your state has its own version of the Move Over law, you had better be prepared to change lanes BEFORE you come abreast of an emergency vehicle, police car, or other “service” vehicles on the side of the road. I tend to look VERY far down the road, just so that I can move from my usual right lane position to the center lane when I am approaching any of those vehicles which are required by law to be given a very wide berth.


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Our law is change lanes if possible, on a few occasions it was not possible.

IIRC, the statute in my state requires that you drastically reduce your speed if you are unable to change lanes before coming abreast of an emergency vehicle.
I don’t think that there is an actual definition of your required speed if you are unable to change lanes, so I just make sure that I am going much more slowly on those rare occasions when I am unable to change lanes.

Florida’s “move over” law has a provision for slowing down if you’re not able to get over.

It’s the same in MD. Drivers have to move over when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the highway if its lights are on. If that is not possible, the approaching vehicle must slow to a reasonable and prudent speed to pass in the lane next to the emergency vehicle. Most of us interpret that as 10 mph below th speed limit.

Of course, there are those that think slowing to 20 over the limit is appropriate.

I have surgically implanted lenses. My vision is now great. But your suggestion is a wise one for anyone who’s unsure or hasn’t had their eyes checked in a long time.

What I was trying to describe was when the sun is behind the traffic control person, you’re looking straight into the sun, and all that’s visible is a profile. A similar problem occurs on a sunny day when the person with the sign is in the shade, especially with the sun is somewhat high but coming from the direction you’re traveling in. I do support improvements in the signs to make them more clear under difficult conditions such as these. Typical signs can be difficult to distinguish under these difficult lighting conditions. The technology, via LED strips, now exists and is extremely inexpensive to apply and to operate. It can even be added to current signs dirt-cheap.

In Texas, you can either move over or slow down to 15 mph below the posted speed limit if you can’t move over, i.e. too much traffic or you’re on a two lane highway.

The comment was meant for the OP, @BillRussell. And thanks for your response.

Our slow down if not able to change lanes
"you are required to slow your vehicle,
maintaining a safe speed for traffic conditions,

10 mph would be unsafe imhop, under our law.

Actual flag people are really rare here and usually only when one lane is shut down and people have to share the one remaining lane. I think it has been a couple years since I’ve seen one. Then I think its pretty obvious if the cars are being waved through or the line of cars is being stopped while the lane is being used by on-coming traffic. Maybe I missed something but most of the time its cones and jersey barriers and not flag people directing traffic.

Flag people are used where I live in cases where one lane needs to be shut down for a period of time. In other states I’ve seen temporary stoplights used that shut down one direction for a period of time, and after allowing time for the cars to clear then shuts down the other direction for a period of time. I believe the requirement varies by state, but I’m not certain of that. I’ve never checked into it.