Better signs for better road safety

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Adel Al-Yousifi

This study investigates the effectiveness of traffic signs, as described in the Vienna Convention, in sending information, warnings, and orders to drivers to create a safe driving environment. This study assumes traffic signs affects the driver's mind and consequently driving behaviour. Confusing traffic signs therefore increases traffic accidents and traffic disturbances. This paper hypothesises that: 1) Some symbols and signs are ambiguous and not easily understood; 2) Some symbols give a meaning different from design intentions; 3) Some symbols give more than one meaning; and 4) Some signs give drivers the impression they are allowed to take actions that are dangerous. The methodology used is based on field research, interviews, and surveys. Traffic signs and their usage were observed, documented, and photographed in 23 countries around the world. Drivers and other interested parties were interviewed. The survey included questions about sixteen traffic signs, which need review and reconsideration. The surveys were conducted at random to 6,000 drivers in England, France, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Ukraine. Then the survey forms were numbered and entered into the computer using SPSS statistical analysis. The results of this basic statistical analysis validate the assumptions, e.g., that perceptions and understandings of some traffic signs are very low (29.07% in the case of A,7a sign), and that the ambiguity of such signs can give drivers wrong and dangerous information. This confirms the need to review and change certain signs in the context of the technological, geographical, social, and psychological developments of mankind, and to standardise traffic signs in view of increasing globalisation.

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