Dynamic lawbreaking

Here’s one more in the signs-as-toys category.

Starting January 1, Connecticut law requires handicap parking signs to use a “dynamic” symbol (a man falling out of a wheelchair) instead of the International Symbol of Access (a man sitting in a wheelchair).

The Federal Highway Administration previously ruled that the new “dynamic” design is not allowed on road signs. Standard symbols must not be modified. The rest of the world uses the International Symbol of Access, and we do too. Connecticut is directly defying a crystal-clear policy.

Under federal law, the man-falling-out-of-a-wheelchair symbol does not mean anything. It doesn’t mean “wheelchair tripping hazard”, it doesn’t mean “paralympic venue ahead”, and it doesn’t mean “you need a permit to park here.” It can’t mean “you need a permit to park here” because only one symbol is allowed to be used for that purpose.

Federal preemption is clear here. Connecticut (like every other state) has made a binding promise to follow national sign standards. Legally, the newspeak signs are not signs.

But state law also prohibits going back to the old design. Existing signs are “grandfathered” until they need replacement. Replacements must use the new not-really-a-wheelchair-symbol symbol.

Of course, politicians didn’t feel they had to obey the old signs either. Signs are not informative, they’re propaganda. Presents for a vocal constituency.

“We support our handi— I mean our 14-253a-enabled people.”

Which is about as helpful as the postcards I get around election season from school committee candidates all of whom want “great schools.”

Signs aren’t the place for slogans. A sparsely-attended late night session on CT-N is the place for slogans.

The opinions expressed in this post belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of the National Motorists Association or the NMA Foundation. This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. No representations are made regarding the accuracy of this post or the included links.

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