What do I mean when I talk about “emotionally intelligent signage?” My definition is straightforward and perhaps a tad narrow:

a) Signage that demonstrates empathy with the viewer (Ex: Don’t worry. This line moves really fast.), or

b) Signage that encourages empathy on the part of the viewer as a way to get greater compliance. (Children play here. Pick up after your dog.)

But readers send me all sorts of signs, many of which have encouraged me to broaden the definition. Case in point: The signage below, which comes from Jim Miciulla.

Check out the passing instructions on the back of the truck. (You might need to click on the photo). The two orange signs and accompanying arrows are definitely effective. There’s no way I’m passing on the right. But are they emotionally intelligent? At first, I thought no. Then I thought, heck, maybe they are. What think?


11 Responses to “Emotionally intelligent signage keeps on trucking”

  1. David Frenkel says:

    I think that might be on the lines of empathy, but the feeling it evokes is fear rather then understanding. Then again i might laugh at it if i saw it on the road and test it in some situations just to be arrogant. So i also see it as a possible challenge to some drivers, who have a heavy foot.

  2. David Frenkel says:

    I just realized that he is on the right side of the road so you have to commit suicide to pass him…Hopefully he is getting off the road, and that is some exit trail.

  3. Mitch Gross says:

    Good eye, Dave. I didn’t catch that. LOL!

  4. Chuck says:

    It’s interesting that he’s in the left lane because (at least in the still) he’s explicitly asking you to choose between being slower than him or killing yourself.

    For this to be effective, the driver would have to be highly sensitive to his speed and keeping to the right whenever possible.

    Maybe adding little bogey decals would hammer home the point even further… 😉

  5. It definitely is less effective when he is in the right lane even though the admonishment is probably still appropriate.

    I like the verbal effect of side/cide and the rhythm generated when saying both signs consecutively since the verbiage has the same number of syllables.

  6. Trevor says:

    I like it because it evokes a (emotive) feeling that encourages you to stop and think, at which point you might be inclined to act — or not — in the desired fashion. In the absence of the evocation, the sign would be roundly ignored.

    I am not fussed about which lane the truck is in. Even trucks need to pass others… Give the reader some credit to process what the one-word signs are intended to convey.

    P.S. On the subject of ignoring signs, I think I heard of a study (perhaps referenced on Dan’s blog) which showed that when a community reduced the number of traffic signs, compliance with the remaining ones improved. I would be grateful if anyone can direct me to that study.

  7. Jim M says:

    For those wondering about why the truck is in the left lane:
    I snapped the photo of the truck in a construction zone.
    All trucks were required to be in the left lane on this northbound stretch of I-71.

    I did note the incongruity in my email to Dan, but the opportunity to take the picture was too good to pass up.

    The sign definately had the desired effect on me. The word “suicide” jolted me into really thinking about my choices as a driver. If I see the same sign again, I will connect to a meaningful emotional anchor experience.

  8. C. A. Hurst says:

    i like direct…

  9. Alfonso says:

    Inmediately after reading that, you look up, and associate your feelings with the brand. Which are these feelings?. A mixture of laughter, surprise and a bit of disquiet. Of course those feelings depend on the person.

  10. Candice says:

    Signals can often be confusingly ambiguous.

    A friend of mine once took a motorcycle trip cross-country, not realizing that a truck’s left turn indicator on a two-lane, two-way road meant that the truck was going to turn left. In my friend’s case, the truck and the motorcycle had a difficult tangle when the truck turned left.

    Generally, I favor the truck signs that are both clear and are enjoyable, even humorous, to read.

  11. Troy says:

    I believe what the signage refers to is when the truck is making an actual left turn (IE. traffic light or intersection) you will be squished if you venture on the “suicide”. They usually have a cute little picture conveying this.

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