How do you get there from here?
When you’re trying to get directions to a place you haven’t been to before, how do you find your way? Some people may use a map, a GPS or even something like Google maps or Map Quest. I know people who prefer to use landmarks to give directions. Maybe you do the same.
Speaking with a dad from my son’s hockey team from last year, we found out that we’ve done the same things when giving local directions; we use coffee shops and restaurants. For example; “Go straight down here until you see the Tim Horton’s on the left, then turn left. Go up three sets of lights and turn right at the A&W. It’s on your left.”
We often won’t use street names because it can be more difficult to see street names to begin with to actually remember what their names were. The letters on the street signs can be so small that poor weather makes it more difficult to see. Why are street signs 10 to 12 feet above the ground anyway? At night, it’s difficult to see the signs clearly when driving at normal speed. In the daytime, the signs are also small enough that a quick glance isn’t usually good enough to read the sign. A few glances will be needed.
I was in one local city where the background of the street signs was gray and the lettering was black. It became so difficult to see the names of the street, especially on overcast days or at night. I guess they didn’t want any strangers in their city at night. They wouldn’t be able to get around.
When I teach students to drive, I will share information about how to get around the city safely. If you plan your route, you should know the name of the street prior to the one you want. Once you pass that street, you know the next street is your street. I’ve seen driver’s slowdown to be able to read signs. That just makes it difficult for the drivers behind them to continue along at a safe speed. It can also anger them.
I was used to confirming the streets I needed to turn on. Many years ago before I became a driving instructor with Young Drivers of Canada, I delivered pizza part time. I checked a map and wrote down the directions, but also needed to ensure I was entering the correct street while I was driving. Trying to read the signs made it difficult when they were out of range from my headlight beams. I had to stop people and ask residents for directions. They were often confusing to me. If only they had a Tim Horton’s on the corner.