May 24, 2009

"Injure / Kill a Worker, $7500 + 15 Years"

Or the social commentary of Michigan's R5-18B road sign.

As my brother and I drove toward the Detroit Metro airport along South 39 toward Romulus (Not Rome, not Star Trek), we passed a road sign that read "Injure / Kill a Worker, $7500 + 15 Years". While the practical intent of the warning was clear, something about the sign rubbed us the wrong way. And I'm sure it would be apparent to most people that it's very odd to associate human life with monetary value (although this is often done at various levels in our society). And only $7,500?

While I guess the sign suggests many things about our social values, I think the bottom line is that its designers believed that a dollar sign would get people's attention and alter motorist behavior. Wasn't it enough for motorists to know that reckless driving and harming a fellow human being is wrong and unacceptable to our society?

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