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Sign Blindness on Roads

Are you experiencing sign blindness on your roads?


If road accidents are still happening in areas where you have signage in place, you may need to update your sign infrastructure

It is a common theme when speaking to our customers that they require a new solution that helps to capture drivers’ attention in settings where they already have existing signage in place. Often, standard plate signage may have been installed which has an initial impact, but drivers soon begin to ignore the information or warning being displayed. This is often referred to as ‘sign blindness’ and can clearly be a safety concern for local authorities.


Inattentional blindness with road signage

Sign blindness, or inattentional blindness, is the term used to describe the situation where the stimulus of a road sign in the field of vision fails to be perceived by a driver and so they are not made aware of the potential approaching hazard. Studies have found that stimuli can fail to be perceived while being engaged in another task or when attention is directed elsewhere.


Awareness of sign blindness

This concept was used on a UK public safety ad for cyclists on the road to clearly demonstrate how “it’s easy to miss something you’re not looking for”.

Click this link to watch for yourself. In many situations, standard road safety measures may have been installed and initially helped to improve hazard awareness and speed limit compliance. However, after a limited period of time, the impact of this signage may reduce, and ultimately it is no longer noticed and poor driving habits can begin to creep in again.


Street furniture: too much similarity in stimuli

Studies have shown that similarity can influence the perception of a present stimulus. Therefore, one reason why sign blindness may arise is the number of signs on the road. Too much street furniture can overload drivers with too much similarity in stimuli and so the signs are not individually perceived.

By installing signs that can warn drivers of more than one hazard at the appropriate time, it is possible to reduce street clutter and ensure the relevant message is displayed and perceived by the motorist. Read about how Dudley Council used a vehicle activated sign solution with a dual hazard display in order to help with their road safety.


An LED upgrade

Often existing road safety measures may not be illuminated solutions, and so one simple option is to upgrade your signage to LED and incorporate flashing elements like amber corner flashers. Hartlepool Council installed several VMS solutions with corner amber flashers to ensure enhanced visibility of the message displayed on the LED sign. LED signage is energy efficient and a vehicle activated sign ensures it only illuminates when an oncoming vehicle is detected.


The smiley SID – science behind the speed indicator device

There is some evidence to suggest that stimuli that feature a reward are noticed more. This in its very simplest form can be a smiley/sad face or a ‘Thank You’/’Slow Down’ safety message displayed on a speed indication device.  If motorists know the consequence of their behaviour is to generate a visual consequence, they are more likely to continue perceiving the sign and the associated speed limit or hazard warning. This has proven to be an effective solution against speeding on an agricultural site in North Yorkshire, click here to read more.

Sign blindness is causing hundreds of traffic incidents that can be avoided. By reducing street clutter, improving visibility with LEDs and adding positive reinforcement to signage, we can help to reduce sign blindness amongst motorists.

If you think motorists in your area are struggling with sign blindness, speak to a member of the team for a solution to improve the safety of your roads. TWM belong to the Pilot Group, a company that also provides electric vehicle charging solutions. With increased regulations surrounding greener transport, Newcastle City Council is looking to offer more sustainable transport solutions across the city and so may look to work with TWM in new ways in the future.

TWM forms part of The Pilot Group, click here for more information.

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