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8:22pm on Friday, 9th December, 2005:



Every Christmas, I drive to Tamworth Service Station on the M42. My father drives there from Yorkshire and my brother drives there from Wales. We have lunch in the Little Chef, swap Christmas presents, then go home. Tamworth is roughly equidistant from all of us (152 miles for me if I take the M42; 146 if I take the A5, but slower).

On the way back, I encountered some roadworks on the A14. They'd been there on the way and had slowed me up a little, but 4 hours later were somewhat worse.

Here's the sign I saw when I'd been crawling along in traffic for 20 minutes already:

Here's the one I saw 10 minutes after that:

Hmm, this next one is a little perfunctory. Any number larger than 6 wasn't going to worry any of us:

Finally, a dire warning of the consequences of doing the impossible and exceeding the speed limit:

I wasn't actually moving when I took that photo. It looks jerky because by now it was getting dark, but I didn't want to dazzle oncoming traffic by using a flash.

When I finally reached the road works, the maximum speed I managed through them was about 25 mph. Most of the time it was much less than that. The moment the roadworks cleared, however, so did the road. I was able to shoot off at 70 instantly. So how come we were trundling along at 25, tops, for the roadworks? Even slow vehciles such as lorries aren't that slow. And why were the two lanes before the roadworks going at 6 mph before merging into one lane and going at 25?

On the face of it, you'd expect two lanes going into one to travel at half the speed of that one, and one lane going into two to speed up to double. In practice, though, it looks as if two-to-one lanes reduces speed by a quarter and one-to-two multiplies it by three.

We were stuck in a terrible traffic jam three years ago at New Year. There were signs counting down to roadworks five miles ahead, and it took us an hour to get through. The thing was, though, there were no roadworks. The roadworks had been temporarily removed because the local authority was expecting lots of traffic over New Year and didn't want to hold people up. However, because they hadn't removed the warning signs, people didn't know this and were dutifully switching into the left lanes (this was a four-to-two lane change) and we wound up being stuck anyway.

Road signs should not be allowed to lie.

Referenced by Boots Death.

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).