Wherever you look, there seems to be yet another parking sign. Why do we need so many and how can we make the reserved parking signs and no parking signs that we must install more effective?
How to Make an Effective Parking Sign
- Is this parking sign visible? Can the parking sign be seen? This means that the sign is posted in a place that drivers can notice and can see – regardless of the weather conditions or if it’s at night or day. A “Parking Permits Required “sign mounted at 4’ and obscured by the van parked in front will certainly not be seen. A reserved parking sign for EMS vehicles mounted on an adjacent side wall could be ignored. Position reserved parking signs in front of each reserved spot or, for long runs of reserved parking spaces, use arrows to indicate the reserved spaces. Mount parking signs above the height of a cat. Use 8’ posts. For especially important spots, add a pavement stencil sign to reinforce your restrictions.
- Is the parking sign legal?For a road or parking facility that is publicly accessible, the most recent DOT regulations require that your parking signs must be reflective. There also rules regarding overall sign design, sign color, type font, corner radius, sign border, etc.
Unfortunately so many of the parking signs see online do not follow these exacting standards. Most novelty signs do not have a place in most parking lots. Rarely durable and usually not following MUTCD specifications, a unwary buyer will find that he or she needs to start all over again, purchase new signs and then re-install them.Only purchase official parking signs.
- Is the parking sign durable?Savvy sign buyers know that the cost of the cost of the sign is a very small part of the total “all in” installed cost for a sign. Typically the soft cost associated with the sign (e.g. the cost to order and install a sign) is 4X’s more costly than the sign itself.
As result, the economics for a durable sign are compelling. Saving $2.00 to $4.00 on a sign that will only last several years, is shortsighted. This is especially true when you compare a sign that has carries 3M warranty of 10 years. Most sophisticated buyers know the true economics of a parking sign.Make sure to purchase parking signs from a company with a long enough history of installed signs to have a credible claim of durability and inspection success. Avoid ink-jet printed parking signs, signs printed using stick on letters or any sign that does not use a 3M or Avery material that comes with a warranty.
Is this sign obeyed? Do your enforcement policies have “teeth”? A parking sign headline that is ignored, or is an empty threat, is a classic “Cry Wolf” problem. Effective parking signs should not only tell you why you should not park there but, importantly, headline a credible and swift consequence for violating the rules. “Your car will be towed!” “Your unlocked car is not safe in this lot!” “You are occupying a space reserved for handicapped parking or reserved for new mothers or our elderly patients and will be ticketed!”Good parking signs show the consequences for those that disregard the rules.Effective parking signs must clearly state the consequences of not following your rules.
Is the sign’s message clear? Are you trapped in a parking sign maze? Sign regulations can get very complicated very fast. With all of the hours, restrictions on standing versus parking versus stopping, requirements for permits, it is easy to to make parking signs too complicated and too hard to understand.Unfortunately, the parking is not getting any simpler anytime soon. That means that complicated parking sign messages are here to stay. But, with a bit of logic and design sense, complex parking sign regulations can be presented in a coherent and understandable way. Not all parking signs need to be the size of a Time Square billboard or the have the complexity of the long-form mortgage application.Put the most effective and important message first. Subsequent detail can be placed in secondary positions. Use supplemental signs to reinforce the message headlined on the primary parking sign. Test out your message on others. Do they understand the rules? What do they think the most important part of your parking sign?
Do the parking signs reach the proper audience? Do you have a Spanish Spanish-speaking set of drivers? Are you directing your sign towards people that have permission to park in the particular facility? Or, is your sign focused on drivers that shouldn’t be parking in your lot?Use bilingual signs when you have a number Spanish-only speaking drivers. Signs that specify prohibitions are usually in red. Signs that set rules (such as reserved parking sign) for authorized drivers are usually printed in green. Bilingual parking signs reach a wider audience and help keep your rules obeyed.
- Are your parking signs big enough to be read from the proper distance? For an elderly population, for example, the letters need to be large enough to be legible from a safe distance. A recent example is the classic “Don’t park in front of dumpster” message. Often placed in an area that obscured behind the dumpster or on a sign that is too hard to read, it is easy to see why this message is so widely ignored.
Signs are Advertisements
Parking signs, in particular, are advertisements for responsible community behavior. Like any other well-crafted ad, you need to understand how to make sure your message is heard. A overly complicated, faded or hard to decipher parking sign will not only be ignored, but for many installations mean that the safety of your facility is compromised.