Letters Not Sent #4

e=mcLetters Not Sent #4

Dear Highway Department,

Regarding your frequently posted sign “Reduced Speed Ahead,” could you please explain the term “reduced” in this context? If your message to drivers is a command to reduce the speed at which they are traveling, then your sign should read “Reduce Speed Ahead.”

If your message to drivers is a notice that the speed limit is reduced ahead, then the sign should read “Reduced Speed Limit Ahead.”

However, if your sign is meant to announce that speed in general is reduced ahead, I’d personally appreciate some explanation of this localized phenomenon of physics. I can appreciate the difficulty of conveying such a weighty concept on a small yellow sign. But with “speed,” “reduced,” and “ahead” as imprecise terms related to velocity, relative diminution, and relative location, the overall message is terribly unclear. I may, in some instances, prefer to take the next off ramp rather than enter a zone of unstable wave/particle manifestation. And are all drivers who enter this area of speed reduction equally impacted, or do larger objects experience a greater effect?

I admit I’m no specialist in physics, so the mystery of “reduced speed ahead” leaves me a bit off center. However, I have invested considerable time and effort in study and use of language, and it seems to me if you wish to command drivers to slow down, you should consider your leadership position as an agency of the state and use proper wording for your signage.


Entering the Twilight Zone

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