Not seeing ‘red’ on highways signs

The in basket: Susan Miles wrote on Dec. 14 to say, “It’s definitely time to replace the faded  ‘Do Not Enter’ sign at the Waaga Way exit onto Silverdale Way.  All of the red warning coloring is completely gone.  My husband has actually seen someone go the wrong way on this exit.

“How can a traffic sign fade?” she asked.

“I have seen several faded signs, and to me it seems dangerous and unacceptable.  I have seen people drive right through an intersection without stopping because the stop sign was faded.

“Who can be held accountable if these faded signs contribute to a serious accident?” she asked.

The out basket: When I encountered Susan at a party just three days later, she said the sign had already been replaced. I had notified Duke Stryker, head of highway maintenance here, of Susan’s e-mail and he had responded quickly.

Steve Bennett, traffic operations engineer for the Olympia region of state highways, thanked Susan for bringing the problem to their attention.

“In terms of the fading question, signs and most other colored things are continually fading, which is brought on by a host of factors, but primarily sunlight. And by far, of the colors we use for highways signs, red fades the most rapidly.

“I am no scientist,” he said, “but my understanding is that fading is due to oxidation caused by sunlight. Apparently the color red is affected by this process more than most other colors.”

He didn’t address the liability issue, but I am sure the answer lies in whether anyone makes a connection between an accident and a faded sign and the legal acumen of the parties involved.

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