Model guidelines for visibility of on-premise advertisement signs

Beverly Thompson Kuhn, Philip M. Garvey, Martin T. Pietrucha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


On-premise advertising signs play an important role in directing drivers. Well-placed and well-designed on-premise advertising signs can guide vehicle operators toward their destinations with minimal demand for attention. Poor placement of signs can sap a driver's cognitive and perceptual resources, resulting in erratic maneuvers such as inappropriate slowing and lane changing. Increasingly, however, the visibility of on-premise advertising signs is being determined not by human factors researchers, visibility experts, or traffic engineers but by local planning and zoning officials, who lack specialized training in relevant fields. Regulations affecting on-premise sign visibility characteristics, such as means of illumination, lateral offset, and sign size, have been established mainly on the basis of arguments for improved aesthetic appeal and of vague, often unsubstantiated safety claims. There is a clear need to determine, from scientific and ergonomic perspectives, the effects these regulations have on sign visibility and traffic safety. An organized synthesis of existing literature on sign visibility based on 60 years of research and consisting of more than 150 journal articles and technical reports is presented. The synthesis may be used by sign designers to optimize the visual effectiveness of their signs. It also can provide a scientific basis for the development of new on-premise sign regulations or changes to existing regulations. A model set of guidelines for designing and locating on-premise advertisement signs for conspicuity and legibility is provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-87
Number of pages8
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number1605
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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