What are these things even trying to say?
Before the advent of Google Maps and GPS navigation systems, folks used to rely on foldable paper maps and good old fashioned road signs to arrive at their destination safely, and (more or less) on time. And that often worked out just fine, provided the sign makers knew how to concisely communicate their travel information. But of course, if you throw in human error, language barriers, and the mischief the brain often plays on itself and other cerebra, some pretty odd and confusing road signs have been posted over the years. Here are some of our head-scratching favorites.
Welcome to Accident
If you happen to be driving around the northwestern corner of Maryland, near the Pennsylvanian border, you might pass through the town of Accident. And if your visit to this little municipality is actually accidental, the sign declaring “Welcome to Accident” could throw you off—and have you wondering what dark premonitions the local sign makers had about your future driving abilities.
Secret Nuclear Bunker
WHERE: Essex, England
The jokes for this sign pretty much write themselves. When Soviet spies wanted to know where the British kept their secret nuclear bunker, all they had to do was follow the clearly labeled signs. After the Cold War, Essex’s Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker was eventually turned into a museum, which means the large road signs that now direct tourists to this “secret” bunker aren’t quite the treasonous blunders they seem upon first glance.
Beware of Invisible Cows
WHERE: Mauna Kea, Hawaii
Atop Hawaii’s mighty Mauna Kea volcano, elevation sickness and the threat of tumbling down a precipitous grade loom large. And even if you decide to drive rather than hike, your problems won’t completely disappear, as you might encounter one of nature’s most elusive and mystical creatures, which locals have dubbed the “invisible cow.”
The sign cautioning visitors to “Beware of Invisible Cows” isn’t actually referring to magical livestock, but rather to the fact that dark-colored cows are difficult to see at night. Of course cud-chewing creatures aspiring to some kind of bovine David Blaine status can always dream.
Book a Hotel
Fined to Death in Australia
WHERE: Newcastle, Australia
Just north of Sydney, in the city of Newcastle, death no longer seems to be the ultimate penalty. A sign there, posted by the Newcastle Tramway Authority, which the Ellen DeGeneres Show called attention to, warns “Touching Wires Causes Instant Death.” And if a meeting with the Grim Reaper isn’t enough to discourage people with a wire-touching fetish, the sign also promises a “$200 fine.” Guess the usefulness of this post-mortem penalty depends on just how frugal someone plans on being during the afterlife.
Brakeless Trucks Use Freeway
WHERE: Northern California
Although driverless trucks are the future of driving, the Californian highway sign that reads “Brakeless Trucks Use Freeway” seems to be telling us that rigs without the ability to stop are what motorists have to deal with today. And while that kind of reckless driving might work in the world of Mad Max, it’s a scenario most of us can do without. More likely than not, the sign is actually advising trucks with faulty breaks about which direction they should head to slow down their rigs—and not wreak carnage upon the road.
WHERE: Cape Town, South Africa
During a visit to South Africa’s Table Mountain National Park, you’ll run into several “Warning Please Look Under Your Vehicle for Penguins” signs. It’s not that these adorable flightless fowl are trying to hitch a ride back to town with you, but being little, they can tuck away into small places under motor vehicles. This is why park guests need to be extra careful with their cars, and help keep Table Mountain’s waddling feathered residents safe from harm.
Don't Gossip, Let Him Drive
India’s road signs offer up all kinds of strange wisdom. The “Don’t Gossip, Let Him Drive” advisory sign, found along hazardous mountain roads and passes, is one such case. While the basic premise of “don’t distract the driver if you want to live” is sound, the wording could be a little off-putting. Don’t call me bro, bruh.