Funny Traffic Signs
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Making funny traffic signs effective

Using humor on the road can be an effective way to draw attention to an important safety message, and that levity is a sure way to make your point memorable. But before putting up a nontraditional sign anywhere on a road, or on private property alongside roads open to the public, it’s a good idea to consider the legal implications and visual effectiveness of your planned signage.

Placement and prominence

The MUTCD (or the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices), published by the Federal Highway Administration, is the government document that standardizes highway and roadway signage and traffic control devices all over the country. Often, states’ transportation agencies will either adopt the national standard or create state-specific supplements to the MUTCD (although a few states have developed their own standards which must be in substantial conformance with the federal standard). 

Funny traffics signs should be compliant if the public is going to be expected to follow specific instructions – especially if the sign is meant to warn. The national MUTCD – and probably your state’s supplement – is very specific about the location standardization of existing and official traffic signs in your community, so when considering where to place additional signage for comic effect, make sure you’re never interfering with the visibility of an existing sign or putting a sign in an area typically reserved for an official road traffic sign, thus drawing the eye of those driving by to a non-critical message at a critical moment. Community information signs and wayfinding signs should have lower priority in placement than official guidance signs and traffic safety signage, and funny traffic signs should be located accordingly.

Physical dimensions of your sign

It’s important to remember not to reinvent the wheel when deciding to use humor in your traffic signs. The funniest signs are those that we’re expecting to see, but with an added twist to surprise the viewer just enough for a laugh. Creating a distraction in size, shape, or color might reduce the effectiveness or put you out of compliance with the rules, or worse, create an unsafe driving environment.

The prescribed shape for road signs is tightly standardized by the MUTCD (and any state variances on that law). The standard shapes for different categories of signage are important information shortcuts for any driver: a yield sign might differ in terms of direction, or a stop sign might contain extra information, but the yield sign must always be an upside-down triangle and a stop sign must always be octagonal. The same rules should be applied when customizing your sign with a humorous angle - use existing shapes in the correct way to make sure you stay safe while being funny.

Most funny traffic signs are probably acceptable as long as they don’t interfere with critical communication along the route (although when in doubt, consult the prevailing version of the MUTCD in your area). For instance, a small town near a major throughway where speeding has become increasingly problematic might choose to ralph lauren outlet put up a sign saying “Meet our judge - Exceed 25 mph!” or “Free speeding tickets!” to give people driving through a quick laugh, while also reminding them that they’re in a reduced speed limit zone. But it’s always a good idea to first make sure you have the existing and critical signage, and only then underline your point with the humorous message.

Private property and liability

Signage on private property - particularly private roads open to public travel - can give property owners cause to worry; they want to be sure that their signage is in compliance with municipal, state, and federal regulations, and that the signage they install doesn’t open them up to liability claims if there’s any kind of accident. In one relevant court case, in Louisiana a trial court granted that there was no negligence by the property owner (in this case, a casino) when a traffic accident occurred on the casino’s privately-owned land and the plaintiff claimed that the cause was unclear signage. In this case, the driver was on the wrong side of a one-way street and sued the casino owners and their insurance company for a lack of clear signage indicating the direction of traffic, but the jury (and later an appellate court) found in favor of the casino owners: that negligence on the part of the casino did not cause the accident.

Of course, each case can and will vary, and conscientious property owners will want to be careful that they’re using funny traffic signs in an appropriate way. Making sure your private roads ralph lauren outlet are well-marked with traditional and compliant traffic signage should be the main goal of any property owner, and the MUTCD is the resource for that. Adding a little humor without creating a distraction can be the cherry on top!

Traditional Crossing Signs
This sign is in keeping with traditional crossing signs, which are diamond-shaped, but it also adds humor to remind people of a nearby attraction.