Construction worker telling cars to stop

If you think about it, road signs are integral to keeping drivers alive. A traffic sign could mean the difference between a driver making that life-saving stop or possibly running into oncoming cars. Drivers have to making important decisions in a matter of seconds, which is why sign manufacturers create signage with the human psyche in mind.

This week, Curcio Enterprises, Inc. shares a few key areas where psychology is used in the creation of traffic signage:


Have you ever wondered how you got to a destination without really having to think hard about the driving process? For most drivers, driving has become so second nature that we can comfortably get from Point A to Point B while chatting with our passengers and keeping the radio on without being overly-cautious.

Studies have shown that colors can instill emotional responses in our brain, even if we don’t think about it. Our brains are wired to perceive the color red as an alert to a possibly hazardous situation. That’s why we automatically respond when we see a red stop sign, red traffic lights, and red road signs that say “WRONG WAY” or “NOT A THRU STREET.”


Like color, the shape of a sign can have an effect on how drivers react. Signs with sharper points, such as a triangular-shaped sign or the octagon stop sign are usually associated with danger, whereas rectangular signs tend to convey standard information, like speed limits and directions. In essence, signs that lack sharp points or have more rounded edges do not necessarily stick out in our minds because they seem non-threatening.

Shorthand Text

Cars move fast, something that the engineers behind road signs have taken into consideration when creating their designs. You’ve probably noticed many shortened or shorthand words in traffic signs, such as “XING,” “FWY ONLY,” as well as the generally limited amount of characters on road signs.

It’s important for signs to say what needs to be said in a short amount of time. Drivers should be able to drive by a sign having full comprehension of its message, whether they’re being told to slow down, look out for pedestrians, stop, or yield.


But sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words – or at least it can say far more than a few words can. Signs showing images of stick figures or animals (such as a deer crossing sign) can stay imprinted in drivers’ minds more than mere text. It may sound odd, but depictions of people (even rudimentary stick figures) can generate empathy in drivers, making them more likely to be practice caution near pedestrian crosswalks, animal crossings, school zones, and bike lanes.

Your patrons should be able to drive through your parking lot with ease. Curcio Enterprises provides custom signage services to improve our customers’ experiences with their businesses. You can view our portfolio for examples of our work on our website, or contact us to discuss options for updating your parking lot signage.