Signs for the Times

Hayward, a city in northern California, is taking a west-coast chilled-out approach to traffic control — safety with a smile.

This is not the first time that Hayward made news with an innovative approach to traffic regulation. In 2013, the Bay-area city voted to end the use of red-light cameras and automatic ticketing. Hayward Police Chief Diane Urban told TheNewspaper.com that, instead of reducing crashes, “Rear end accidents increase significantly because people come to a screeching halt.”

Out went the red light cameras. And, instead, the time for yellow warning lights was increased. Tickets have decreased as a result, but so have crashes.

Now Hayward is taking another bold step to control traffic. The city is using humor to get drivers to slow down and pedestrians to pay attention.

Hayward has placed traffic signs along a downhill boulevard that reads:

“35 — IT’S A SPEED LIMIT, NOT A SUGGESTION.”

Another sign warns: “DOWNHILL: USE EYES, BRAKES, BRAIN.”

Yet another warns, “HEADS UP! CROSS THE STREET…” And it advises to wait until then to update social media.

A recent survey found speeding was a top concern for residents in the Hayward area. And city spokesman Frank Holland says authorities hope using humor will get people to do a double-take and be careful on the hill.

A study on humor in business in Harvard Business Review by Fabio Sala, a consultant with the Hay Group’s McClelland Center for Research and Innovation in Boston, found that funny executives perform better and are better leaders. Humor, he found:

Reduces hostility

Deflects criticism

Relieves tension

Improves morale

Helps communicate difficult messages

Now it seems that humor can also prevent traffic accidents.

New York City, which could use some smiles, put a new 25 mph speed limit into effect in November.

It applies to all locations where a maximum speed is not posted. The new law cuts the speed limit from 30 mph. The measure is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s traffic safety plan called “Vision Zero” to reduce pedestrian and driver deaths.

In the first change of speed limit in New York City since 1965, the city has been replacing about 3,000 speed signs. The new 25 mph speed limit affects about 90 percent of the city’s streets.

Everyone in our community has a story about a traffic incident or near accident, R”l.

It is estimated 50,000 motor vehicles illegally pass New York State school buses every day. In the last five years, 35 students were hit by motorists in New York State passing stopped school buses. Two students were killed.

We have all seen drivers engrossed in phone calls — or, worse — texting while driving. Either of these could, chas veshalom, be suicidal or homicidal.

The sound of screeching tires makes us cringe, waiting for the thud and jangle. What might be if one of those crashes involved a bus full of children, chas v’shalom.

We have more than enough threats to our lives — and our children’s lives — to just shrug off dangerous driving. We have to have zero tolerance for reckless driving on our streets.

If dire warnings and summonses don’t help, perhaps we should learn from Hayward, Ca. In the spirit of the city’s new emphasis on safety, and lightening up a bit with the approaching month of Adar, we would like to suggest some new traffic signs for Boro Park:

“VI LOIFST DI?”

“IS THIS HOW YOUR FATHER TAUGHT YOU TO DRIVE?”

(And, giving equal time) “IS THIS HOW YOUR MOTHER TAUGHT YOU TO DRIVE?”

“USHMARTEM ME’OD L’NAFSHOSEICHEM IS A MITZVAH”

“DRIVE CAREFULLY. HASHEM LOVES YOU. HE LOVES PEDESTRIANS TOO.
HE EVEN LOVES OTHER DRIVERS”

“IF HASHEM WANTED YOU TO GO FASTER, HE WOULD HAVE GIVEN YOU ROLLER BLADES. TAKE IT EASY.”

“B”H — NICE TO SEE YOUR EYES.
NOW THAT THEY’RE OFF THE PHONE, PLEASE WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GOING.”

“THE OTHER GUY THINKS YOU ARE THE OTHER GUY. V’AHAVTA L’REI’ACHA KAMOCHA

And, in all seriousness, tzes’chem l’shalom uvo’achem l’shalom!