Punctuated Stop Sign Program Cancelled


stop sign 1

ABOVE: Coma installed punctuated stop signs last spring as way to draw more attention to the signs. Some, like the one pictured above, featured typos that included a question mark, leading to confusion and multiple collisions

Following the installation of new stop signs around town in the past two months, a rash of fender benders and accidents has brought traffic in Coma to a standstill.

“There are two problems,” Coma Mayor Dave Anderson said.  “First, some dumb ass down at the DOT didn’t know the difference between a question mark and an exclamation point, and two, people are morons.”

That was the explanation from Mayor Anderson regarding the failed attempt at creating the nation’s first series of punctuated traffic signs.  Started in April as a way to reduce the number of intersection collisions involving pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, the program suffered multiple setbacks and complications.

“We were simply looking to heighten the importance of stopping at the stop signs,” city planner Ruth Mayweather said of the program.  “Part of the problem is that when you are using all caps and then add an exclamation point, people feel like you are screaming or yelling at them.  And that’s how many of them reacted.”

stop sign 5

ABOVE: Photos of some of the vehicles involved in the dozens of accidents that occurred following the installation of the punctuated stop signs

The number of rear-end collisions increased dramatically within the first few weeks of the new signs being installed.

“I don’t like being yelled at and when I approached the sign I just totally slammed on my break because the sign was getting all up in my face,” said 17-year old high school senior Courtney Sheffield, who was involved in nine rear-end collisions between June and August.  “People said I was freaking out but I wasn’t the one yelling at everyone to stop.”

stop sign 2

ABOVE: Signs like this caused confusion and panic among many drivers, who felt like they were being yelled at by the sign

To make matters worse, a number of the signs that were installed featured typos in which a question mark was inserted instead of an exclamation point.  This error is believed to be the cause of more than 80 intersection collisions that took place this summer.

“Most motorists viewed the question mark as more of a suggestion to stop,” Anderson said.  “As a result, people considered the question for a moment but overwhelmingly chose to proceed without stopping.  That’s a recipe for disaster.”

According to the Coma Department of Transportation, the mix-up involving the question mark was an honest mistake that could have happened to anyone.

“We kind of screwed the pooch on that one?” asked DOT Supervisor Don Lovall, adding “I felt really bad about that?”

The program was recently canceled and the town is in the process of replacing the signs.

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