Today I wrote a letter to the Federal Highway Administration because I felt that they were missing the point in their regulations for highway signs. Their efforts are focused on lettering (a new font) and reflectivity, when the real issue is illumination. As can be seen in the above photo, the illuminated portion of the sign is legible, whereas the other portion is not.
Here is my letter.
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20590
I know that you are doing much to regulate highway signs by improving readability with a new font and improving visibility by requiring more reflective materials. However, I am not sure you realize that all of this is for naught if the signs are not adequately illuminated.
Let me explain. Not all highway signs are illuminated by lamps located on the signs themselves. Many of them require the light of the headlights of oncoming vehicles to illuminate them. However, new technology in automobile headlight systems has reduced the upper range of these headlights so that their range is only half as high as it used to be.
Thus, when a vehicle gets close enough for the driver to read the sign, that sign is no longer illuminated by the vehicle’s headlights and, therefore, is difficult or impossible to be read.
In New York, many signs that have had their own lighting are dark because their bulbs are not being replaced. Officials claim that under your regulations, these lights are no longer required.
My question to you is simple. Why don’t you understand the need, in the name of safety, for these signs to have their own illumination?