Thinking of our safety, some people care very much about the font on our road signs.
Where are we going? To the road sign font debate.
The Best Road Signs
When the FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) decided it would switch the font on our road signs, they aroused a heated debate. One group wants to retain Highway Gothic while the opposition says Clearview is easier to read. Especially concerned with the proliferation of aging baby boomers, in 2004 the FHWA chose Clearview. But Monday we found out that they changed their mind.
Comparing the two fonts, you can see the difference.
A designer favorite that has official support in Canada and Indonesia, Clearview is known as one of the ten typefaces of the decade. Clearview advocates say that lowercase e, a, and s are the big Highway Gothic problems because they look like “o” from a distance. Consequently, drivers cruising at 45 mph get an extra 80 feet of legibility– a 1.2 second improvement from signs with Clearview. Responding, the Highway Gothic side cites recent research with black letters on white or yellow that show Clearview has worse visibility.
For now, the FHWA says that existing Clearview signs can remain. But any future replacements have to be Highway Gothic. The Clearview side is challenging the decision.
Our Bottom Line: Transportation Infrastructure
When we consider improving our highways through the new transportation bill (FAST), most of us picture a road or a bridge, maybe some cars and trucks. The font debate takes us to the countless unsaid details that compose the basic performance metrics of our transportation infrastructure.