What is a road construction sign? You may say “it’s simply a sign,” but the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) disagrees. The MUTCD doesn’t offer a simple definition of signage, instead, this manual defines the form and usage of all traffic control devices. Moreover, signage and other traffic control devices must promote highway safety and highway efficiency, states the MUTCD. Highway traffic control devices achieve their aim by creating orderly motion through streets, highways, bikeways, and private roads open to public travel throughout the Nation.
Signs along America’s highways must be effective. All signage, according to the MUTCD, along the nation’s streets must clearly convey their message – an unclear sign might as well be written in riddles and gibberish. Moreover, according to the MUTCD, all traffic control signs must meet five basic requirements:
- Fulfill a need
- Command attention
- Convey a clear, simple meaning
- Command respect from road users
- Give adequate time for a proper response
It might be fun to decrypt a cipher, but few motorists have time unlock the mystery of Kryptos, the scrambled message that rests before Virginia’s CIA building while driving. There’s already a myriad of sensory data along the nation’s highways.
Motorists are bombarded with sensory data. Due to the influx of data, the MUTCD states a sign must clearly convey its message and demand attention. Moreover, the color signage is a clear indicator of the type of information it contains. A sign’s shape may also reveal meaning.
America’s road construction signage has forgone words for symbols. According to the MUTCD symbols “provide instant communication” with motorists and transcend language barriers. Bright colors and pictographs quickly deliver a message of danger or right of way, especial in a multi-cultural land such as the United States. However, it’s not just the United States that has almost abandoned the written word, pictographic signs are quickly becoming the international language of the highway.
The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices has defined signage not to reinstate the obvious, but to cause safety along America’s highways. Signs must be easily identified by motorists while navigating an onslaught of sensory data. Moreover, it’s undeniable that the highway’s best signs come in the form of brown rectangles – scenic rest area. However, orange signs must be obeyed for the safety of everyone!