New Road Signs
Reported December 2005
STATE COLLEGE, Pa.
(Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- Road signs come in all shapes and sizes but just because they are big it doesn't mean they're easy to see. Now, a new look will help you see the signs more clearly.
It isn't Mary Sweitzer's 83 years that slow her down on the road; it's road signs. "While I'm driving and there are road signs that are difficult for me to see I tend to lean forward," she says.
Older drivers especially find road signs tough to read. But now, Sweitzer may get some roadside relief with these new signs. Martin Pietrucha, Ph.D., a civil engineer at Pennsylvania State University in Philadelphia, says, "You'll notice it's thinner in here than it was on the old one."
When headlights shine directly on traditional highway signs, the letters can turn into blurry blobs, making them hard to read. The new font, however, is a thinner, easier-to-read font -- even at night. Pietrucha says: "We put the font on a diet. It's not as chubby as it used to be."
Developed by a team -- including civil engineers, graphic designers, psychologists and vision experts -- the new typeface combines upper- and lower-case print with added space inside the letters. The result is a clearer sign that drivers can see better, day or night. "We found you could read these signs a lot farther away than you could read the other signs," Pietrucha says.
According to Pietrucha the new signs will start popping up over highways as old ones need replacing. "We have certainly improved what was out there for the last 50 years."
Sweitzer says anything they can do to make the signs much more visible is helpful and an improvement that may keep her safe on the roads. Pennsylvania and Texas have already committed to using the new fonts when they replace road signs.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
See the new font on the web at:
The American Society of Civil Engineers
1801 Alexander Bell Drive
Reston, Virginia 20191-4400
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
PO Box 1369
Santa Monica, CA 90406
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