Days 36 & 37: Traffic Signs As Story Starters

Days 36 & 37 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge. Road Sign

For the past two days I’ve been noticing traffic signs while I walk.  I can’t believe how the streets are littered with signage to tell us when to stop, yield, what speed to drive, when to merge, where to park, what the road conditions are, where to find public transportation, warnings about speed bumps, where there is a location of cultural interest or historic importance, where crosswalks and schools are located, where food, gas, and hospitals are located, where you’ll find road crews working, and where to watch for “Falling Rocks.” These are just the signs mounted on posts, mind you, not the additional information that is actually painted on the street pavement.  Over the past two days I’ve seen the following signs:

  • Stop
  • Yield
  • No U-Turn
  • One Way
  • Slow
  • Dead End
  • Hospital
  • Bus
  • Road Work
  • Slippery When Wet
  • Stop Sign Ahead
  • Interstate 280
  • School
  • No Parking
  • Speed Limit 25 (30 and 35, too)
  • Keep Right
  • Crosswalk
  • Watch for Falling Rocks

That last one makes me smile because Papa used to tell a story about that sign every time we took a road trip and saw one.  Here’s the story:

An old Indian chief called his sons, two brave warriors named Running Buffalo and Falling Rocks, to his side and said, “I must pick a new chief for the tribe. Go and hunt for buffalo. Whoever returns with the most buffalo will become the next chief.”  A month later, Running Buffalo came back with nearly twenty buffalo pelts in tow. Sadly, Falling Rocks never returned. The tribe organized a search and looked everywhere, but they couldn’t find the missing brave. Today, you can see the evidence of their search for this beloved warrior. Throughout the highways and side roads, you can still see their signs that say, ‘Watch for Falling Rocks.’

We used to groan aloud every time we heard it.  You and your family may be able to create some stories of your own by using traffic signs as story starters. If you need inspiration, you can see a list of the most commonly used traffic signs in the U.S. (taken from the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) here:  Because there are so many different signs, it’s divided into sections for:

  • Regulatory Signs
  • Warning Signs
  • Marker Signs
  • Guide and Informational Signs
  • Recreational and Cultural interest Signs
  • Signs for Bicycle Facilities
  • Temporary Traffic Control Signs
  • Railroad and Light Rail Signs
  • School Signs
  • Emergency and incident Management Signs

And you can even learn about standard sign shapes, colors, typefaces, sign posts and supports, and more. If you create a story based on a traffic sign, post it here.  I’d love to read it.  Have fun!


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