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How a Driving Sign Instantly Communicates

April 12, 2018

The power of a driving sign is that it can instantly communicate with drivers using simple text or images. While words such as “stop,” “caution” and “danger” all have attention-getting value, sometimes images can communicate faster than words. Here’s a deeper look at how road signs affect driving behavior.

Easily Recognized Images or Designs

  • railroad crossing (RXR)
  • school children (stick figures)
  • no parking (parking with a slash through it)
  • one way (arrow points in correct direction)
  • food and gas (gas pump and plate with fork and knife)

Why Images Help

Images on driving signs help break up the monotony of most road signs, which communicate with words. Food, gas and lodging signs with appropriate images work for travelers, who probably read more signs than anyone. Effective signs that attract their attention for these services use multiple brand logos on one sign. A typical driving sign on the freeway about food displays six restaurant logos. A national brand logo is already well known, making it instantly recognizable to many drivers.

Effective road images help drivers prepare for sharp curves, a slippery road, or less lanes. When driving in the mountains you’ll often see a deer crossing sign with just the image of a deer leaping into the air. The combination of the standardized yellow color and diamond shape communicates “caution.”

Men at work signs are also familiar to most drivers, so all they need to see is an orange diamond with the stick figure of a man doing some kind of work activity. A pedestrian crossing sign is often a bright yellow diamond with a black stick figure walking. The “No U-Turn” sign is universally understood by drivers.

Sign Message Effectiveness

In a recent study published by the Journal of Consumer Research, scientists used eye-tracking sensors on participants who watched a driving video and responded with strokes on a keyboard. The study found that participants reacted to the signs with images depicting motion more quickly than signs without motion imagery.

Thinking of Children

Even though experienced drivers have plenty of sign knowledge, they need to take extra care in areas with school children. The more signs that remind drivers they are entering a school zone, the safer it will be for the neighborhood. Signs with images of children instantly remind drivers about how children are not always careful crossing the street.

The combination of motion signs and regular traffic signs such as speed limit and stop can help keep traffic calm in an area with a frequent presence of children. Several signs can collectively paint the safety message you want visitors to know about your neighborhood.

Every driving sign should say something important to drivers. The most effective signs are the ones with simple short messages or images that are easy to identify. Contact us at Zumar for free quote and to learn more about how we can customize signs for your organization.

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