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6:01pm on Friday, 18th March, 2011:

Road Debris


I finished my talk at Bristol yesterday without embarrassing my daughter too much (I embarrassed her just enough), and drove home.

On the way, I encountered a matrix sign on the M4 saying the speed limit was 50mph because of "debris on road". Then, a mile or so later, I cam across another one saying the same thing. Then another. Then another.

In all, there were eight signs warning about debris on the road. You don't need eight signs to tell people there is debris on the road: you need one sign, or possibly two if the debris is so close to a sign that people don't have to slow down for it. It's also a reasonable requirement that if there are signs warning of debris on the road, there should actually be debris on the road. There was no debris on the road. There was a piece of road surface about 10 metres long between signs 6 and 8 which was being replaced, but no debris.

Having established that the matrix signs were lying, I next came across one saying that the M25 was closed between junctions 23 and 25. An earlier sign had said there was an accident on the M25 (but not where), so I wasn't sure if it was there or not. Either way, I had to get from junction, er, whatever to junction, er, whatever, which probably meant going between junctions 23 and 25.

More matrix signs told me that the M25 was closed between junctions 23 and 25. None of them told me what roads connected to the M25 at those points. Looking at a map now, I can see that junction 23 is with the A1 and junction 25 is with the A10. I knew I was coming in on the M4 somewhere in the teens (junction 15 I now know) and was leaving somewhere in the 20s (junction 28), but I didn't know the exact numbers. No signs told me them, either: it was always between junctions 23 and 25.

Having experienced lying signs earlier, I therefore had to make a decision: do I ignore the signs and take my usual clockwise route back home from Bristol, or do I believe them and go anti-clockwise, which is further? In the end, due in part to the fact I would be able to boast that I had driven round the entire M25 in one day, I went south. I got home at half past midnight.

As it happened, the signs weren't lying. A car transporter crashed, blocking all three lanes clockwise, shedding its load of vehicles and spilling diesel on the road surface. Unfortunately, the driver died.

So, debris on the road there, yes...

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Copyright © 2011 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).