An Explanation of Some of the Most Confusing Road Signs

a confusing road sign

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Finish this sentence from your childhood: “When I grow up, I want to …” Chances are, you didn’t produce the answer “doodle instructions on reflective pieces of metal.”

Making sure everyone knows how the world’s road systems work is an inglorious job, but it is also an important one. Without proper signage, people are liable to drive into one another, fly off the road or just become well and truly lost.

In a typical drive, most of the road signs you’ll come across will make sense. There are, however, a few exceptions. We think the creators of these signs had the best intentions, but if you see one of these, it’s probably a good idea to slow down and make your own judgment call.

Montreal Circle

Minnesota is a place that takes pride in its weirdness, and for good reason. Despite enough creative energy to produce a guy like the late, great Prince, the land of 10,000 lakes ran out of ideas when it came to naming the roads in this stretch of St. Paul.

Montreal Avenue, Montreal Circle and Montreal Way all meet at this intersection. Better consult Siri before you make that left turn.

Beware of Dragons

Is this a practical joke? Did someone watch a few too many episodes of “Game of Thrones” while playing drinking games before getting down to work on their road sign assignment? Our advice: Drive fast or carry heavy weaponry — or do both.

Inner-City Chaos

Options are good, but this sign is a little overwhelming. You’ve got five potential left turns, a couple of ways to go straight and just the far lane takes you right. Hopefully, you’ve considered the correct lane to be in before you see this. It is the truest expression of 100-plus years of evolution in sign design.

Which Lanes Are Open?

Washington, D.C. is the home of this sign, which is a sort of roadside metaphor for bureaucratic confusion. Apparently, the far left lane exists, but no cars are ever allowed in it. The three right lanes are open during the better part of the day, except for a window between 3:30 and 7 p.m., during which time only the far right lane is available. In the window of time after 7 p.m. but before 6:30 a.m., you get the right two lanes.

Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200

We’re not entirely sure where this very confusing sign is installed, but if you encounter it, you’re in serious trouble. This sign effectively ends your journey and requires you to remain in place for the duration of your existence. You can’t proceed forward, go backward or make a turn to either side.

Too Late if You’ve Read it

This sign says, “Do not read under penalty of law.” But then, by the time you know you’re not supposed to read the sign …

Surgery Parking Only

This is a considerate sign to have. It indicates that only patients of the Heartland Cataract and Laser Surgery Center can park here. The only problem is that it’s a five-minute parking zone. That’s a quick surgery. Heck, that’s not even long enough for a haircut.

Planes May Explode From Your Car

Some mental gymnastics make it conceivable that this sign might actually be intended to mean “Beware, planes may hit your car.” That’s frightening enough, but most of America was brought up to read from right to left. Therefore, this sign says something to the effect of “Aircraft may spontaneously materialize from out of your car and fly away.” It’s a more positive outlook.

Doing the research to find these have taught us there are a whole lot of confusing road signs out there, and that’s just in the USA. Outside the states, you’ll find some truly creative signage. So keep your eyes peeled out there, and always obey the words on the sign.

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