What if anyone could put up any sign they wanted? Well, there are rules for a reason…
Picture this… Everyone in B.C. could have full artistic freedom for creating and posting signs. For example, to indicate that a hairpin curve is coming up – maybe choose a pink background and draw a picture of hair with a pin in it that indicates the way the road curves? Roman numerals could be used for variety on speed signs. Heart-shaped signs might add a warm and fuzzy touch to the geometric squares, diamonds and octagons commonly seen on B.C.’s highways.
While this imaginative expression might sound dizzily enticing to some, in reality it would be creative chaos. If for a moment, you think that the “artistic anarchist approach” to road signage is the way to go, take a look at the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s 244-page Manual of Standard Traffic Signs & Pavement Markings. This document is packed with loads of logic that aligns with Canadian and international signage wisdom and standards. It guides the ministry in all we do with signage, to help you reach your destination safely. Here’s the big principle:
“Motorists have a right to expect that any given traffic sign will always have the same meaning and will require the same response, regardless of where the sign is encountered. Standardization of design and application aids recognition and understanding of signs and is important in obtaining motorist compliance and cooperation.”
If this doesn’t convince you that an ordered approach is in order, our manual further cautions that, “Traffic signs are most likely to be ignored if insufficient thought and attention has been given to their application.”
We believe that to be effective, a sign must:
- Fulfill a need.
- Command attention and respect.
- Convey a well-thought out, clear and simple message.
- Allow adequate time for a proper response.
Following these principles, our signs are a uniform design and standard colours, and used and posted consistently. We want drivers to focus on the road ahead, and be able to understand every sign, at a glance. We want to avoid confusion from contradictory or misleading information, or odd placement or use of signs. We know that too many signs can distract drivers and reduce each sign’s effectiveness. We even have a term, “sign fatigue,” to express how when people see too many signs they stop paying attention to them. In this case, more (signs) can mean less (usefulness and safety).
So, while personal flair is wonderful for detailing a vehicle, decorating your home or dressing yourself, we urge you to leave road signage to us. If you have any questions about putting up safety or commercial signs, please direct them to the nearest Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure office in your region.