The Meaning of a Soft Shoulder Sign

A road’s shoulder is a place for stopping in case of emergency next to the traffic lanes. Drivers are informed with a soft shoulder sign that the roadside is not built of asphalt. A soft shoulder sign in some places warns drivers that stopping on the shoulder is riskier due to the state of the road. It serves as a reminder to drivers to exercise caution.

Shoulders: Soft vs. Hard

Sometimes the main road continues onto the shoulder, which is paved. The so-called emergency lane on an interstate highway is one illustration of this. Gravel, dirt, or other materials that are graded can be used to create soft shoulders.

Engineers take into account the usage of the shoulder as well as the sorts of vehicles on the road when deciding on things like the material to use for the shoulder and the lane width.

What Road Shoulders Are For

The road shoulder fills a variety of functions for motorists. By providing lateral support to the pavement and directing water away from the road surface, it first protects the road surface. It serves as a temporary parking space for vehicles with disabilities or for people who want to stop and take in the scenery.

Uses for Shoulders in Emergency

In an emergency, a paved shoulder can also be used as a driving lane. For instance, the state of Florida opened the shoulders of the interstates to traffic as Hurricane Irma approached the Florida coast in 2017. This expanded the interstate’s capacity, allowing more people to flee to safer locations.

Having Soft Shoulders Can Be Risky

Drivers should be aware of whether the shoulder is paved or not. They will be prepared for when the car crosses the lane line if they need to stop for a flat tyre, avert a collision, or take a picture.

Drivers must exercise caution while leaving the main road on a road with a soft shoulder since changes in the slope and surface of the road could result in their losing control of their automobile.

Emergency Stopping Advice

Dealing with a broken-down car by the side of the road is more than just a hassle. It may also be harmful. Drivers should take a few safety measures in an emergency to protect themselves and their passengers.

This entails slowing down, if at all feasible, beneath a street light, turning on the hazard lights, and remaining within the car until assistance arrives or it becomes imperative to exit.

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.

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