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Preventing Collisions with Wrong Way Signs

April 19, 2019

Even though head-on collisions account for only a small percentage of traffic accidents, they result in over ten percent of traffic deaths. Many of these accidents occur where there are no road dividers or double yellow lines. In other cases they occur on one way streets that lack sign visibility at intersections or at night. Wrong Way as well as One Way signs help reduce these tragedies.

Signs Must Communicate to Drivers

The purpose of any sign is usually to communicate a simple message to many people at once or over time. That message becomes meaningless if any part of the sign is obscured by darkness, trees, or other obstructions. Even though drunk driving is illegal, signs should still be simple and visible enough to be perceived by drunk drivers, who are often the top cause of head-on collisions on one way streets.

Wrong Way signs present the strongest warning to drivers, since the word “wrong” clearly indicates the driver will be at fault if they cause an accident. While One Way signs still present a clear message, Wrong Way signs have a more urgent alert feel. Failing to place these signs where they are needed most (garage entrances, two way streets that merge into one lane, freeway offramps and narrow one way roads) can lead to rising fatalities.

Areas Needing Wrong Way Signs

Any street, entrance, or exit where there is a possibility of confusion over traffic direction should include a Wrong Way or similar sign. A huge concrete parking garage often needs this sign, especially if the exit follows a curved driveway that obscures other vehicles. Gated communities often use Wrong Way signs to alert drivers not to enter through an gated exit.

Apartment complexes and hotels often have huge parking lots where vehicles can appear at any second to exit a gate. Sometimes drivers without the security code wait at the gate for someone to leave and open the gate for them. This situation is potentially dangerous, which is why a Wrong Way sign can help remind them not to take their chances.

Too many signs can cause drivers to not take them seriously, which is why signage should only be placed where it’s most appropriate and should not be over-used. The power of the message will diminish when people see too many warning signs where there is no apparent danger. But lack of signage is even more dangerous and more likely to cause an accident.

School parking lots should use Wrong Way signs at the exits. High schools in particular, where students are just starting to become drivers, need these signs since young drivers often lack the experience to perceive dangerous scenarios. Wrong Way signs should also be placed where alleys intersect with streets if the path is too narrow for vehicles to move in both directions.


Wrong Way signs are essential where there may be confusion about one way streets. Contact Zumar at our Arizona, California, or Washington office to learn more about producing traffic safety signs for your area.

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