All fonts other than PIXymbols or FHWA is banned on Street Name signs – and all Street Name signs MUST also have a border
WASHINGTON, DC — Any new Street Name signs designed from here on out are required to have a border on them and can only have two types of fonts on them.
In a February 4 blog for the USDOT, the Federal Highway Adminstration said that all fonts other than PIXymbols and FHWA Highway Gothic will be prohibited on Street Name signs, effective tonight.
Safety can only happen when nothing is overlooked, even the font used on highway signs. We strive to make the U.S. road system consistent from coast to coast. To minimize driver confusion, for example, STOP signs in California should look the same as they do in Maine.
Recently, we published a notice in the Federal Register that an experimental font called “Clearview” – for which we gave conditional use approval starting in 2004 – will not be approved for use on public roads after February 23.
Though research initially gave us hope that Clearview would make signs easier to read from greater distances and at night, years of additional research have not supported this conclusion.
Early successes we noted were credited to the new font, but the years since have shown those successes were likely due, at least in part, to the fact that older, worn signs had been replaced with new, cleaner ones using brighter materials. After more than a decade of analysis, we learned that retro-reflective sign sheeting materials that direct a vehicle’s headlamp beams back to the observer were the primary determining factor in improved nighttime visibility and legibility.
Among other things, we also learned that Clearview compromises the legibility of signs in negative-contrast color orientations, such as those with black letters on white or yellow backgrounds like Speed Limit and Warning signs.
Streamlining our national standards for traffic control devices has been a continuous priority for the FHWA. For these and other reasons, the FHWA believes there is no practical benefit to the public in continuing to pursue this alternative font, which is why we issued a notice to announce that it would no longer be supported.
Clearview was allowed to be used while research about its benefits continued, and now we know. Because of the limitations of the conditional approval, the public’s safety has not been compromised during this process.
Importantly, this action in no way requires that states go out and start removing signs using Clearview. Let me emphasize: this action does not mandate removal or installation of any signs.
Instead, once signs using Clearview reach the end of their useful life, they will be replaced with new highway signs that feature approved fonts from the Standard Alphabets – known as “Highway Gothic.”
Now, “Highway Gothic” is a personal favorite of mine, but you might like something else. So long as it’s in this guide —http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/SHSe/Alphabets.pdf — it’s okay to use.
Safety is our top priority, and it will remain so. Whether guardrails, pavement markings, the placement of highway signs, or even the font on them, we are constantly studying ways to improve the safety of the driving public.
What that means is that Street Name signs in Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell and Orangeburg counties must look just like the street name signs in Aiken County and in the City of Barnwell.
Allendale County has yet to install new Street Name signs, while Bamberg County has only begun installing Clearview signs. Barnwell County has a hodgepodge of Helvetica and Arial outside of the county seat, while Orangeburg County uses Helvetica outside of the county seat. Both Barnwell and Orangeburg city limits use FHWA.
I wonder what will become of the signs in the four southeasternmost counties in our area?