Road signs are a dime a dozen out there. The typical driver usually only focuses on what is directly in front of their car, oblivious to almost everything else. Advertisers know though, that it is possible to catch the eye of the driver. They choose strange images or bold words to catch their attention. It really works! How many times can you remember looking at a sign because it was abnormal?
A small town in Fukuoka Prefecture has been taking notes and have come up with their own unusual traffic signs to help slow down cars on some of their dangerous roads.
Japan is known for its narrow roads. Some of them you look at and wonder how two cars can possibly pass each other (answer: very slowly and with both drivers wincing). You may pause in wonderment at the logic behind making the roads that narrow, and then it hits you, pedestrians also have to fit on this poor excuse of a two-way road!
Especially in rural areas of Japan, students from as young as elementary school age have to walk on these narrow streets to get to school. Of course, there are many road signs warning people to “watch your speed” or “be careful of walking students”, but they are so common, some people might ignore them or at least get so used to them that they forget all about them. These safety issues are compounded when the road is particularly straight.
▼Typical, narrow Japanese road
Take this road in Chukujougunyoshito-machi Suzukuma, Fukuoka, for example. The width is about five meters (16.4 feet) wide, so two cars are barely able to squeeze past each other. If they do, it leaves no room for any pedestrians. This road lies just off a main prefectural road and thus it’s a commonly used road for cars and students walking to the nearby elementary school. And even though there is lots of traffic, cars will still race down the road as it lacks any curbs and stop signs.
From April 2014, however, this town in Fukuoka has decided to use new street signs to get cars to slow down and be more cautious. They are using “straight-to-the-point” phrases to catch the drivers’ attention such as “AH! DANGER!” and “Things will jump out at you!” , often written in surprisingly casual tones. When confronted with those signs, drivers think, “What? Really? Where, where???” and are forced to use more caution.
▼”Things will jump out at you!” Nice use of the exclamation mark, too!
Reactions from around the web seem to agree.
“This has a lot of impact!”
“It’s nice to see this working.”
“Instead of a ho-hum slogan, this is a lot more effective!”
“I like this kind of thing; I wish they would do it in Hokkaido too!”
“This idea is really good; it’s bad to have kids suffering from accidents and close calls.”
One of our own writers wondered if these signs were really effective. But, once they drove the road themselves, the impact was extraordinary. There is no mistake, drivers will slow down when they see these unfamiliar signs! Of course, if you can’t read Japanese, perhaps something like this would be more effective.
Do you think these signs would work where you live? Let us know in the comments!