Dirk Van Staeyen of Belgium sends these examples of emotionally intelligent signage along with a brief explanation:

“I drove home from holiday today and came across these signs (in the Netherlands) on a stretch of highway where roadworks were in progress. These smiley signs are placed 1 kilometer apart from each other, each time showing a happier face as you near the end of the works. They didn’t get me to the end of the roadworks any faster but they sure brought a smile to my face. It was the first time I saw them but apparently they’re also frequently used in Germany and Austria with a similar, positive response from drivers.”

(Note: For those who need to brush up on your Dutch, “Nog” means essentially “still” or “more.”)

4 Responses to “Can signs turn (road) rage into rapture?”

  1. john serpa says:

    Great Post!

    Reminds me of a stretch of road on Route 15 near Gettysburg, PA. Along the side of the road, spaced about every 1/2 mile, are small signs that give tidbits about a store that sells mugs, candy, and other wares. As you grow closer to the exit for this store, the signs become more emotional until you just have to pull off out of obligation to the person that spent all that time posting the signs!

    At the neuroscience level, the signage genie in your example and the Gettysburg store knows a little about the reticular activator system (RAS) in our human brain. When prompted with reminders that are set spatially and sequentially apart and coupled with the right image and message, the RAS goes into high gear to prompt an emotional response.

    John Serpa
    Vienna, VA

  2. The Indiana Dept. of Transportation has done something similar in construction zones, but they post a riddle or a joke.

    On the next sign you get the punchline or answer to the riddle (along with how much farther until the zone ends), so you actually look forward to it. Takes your mind off the construction.

  3. All the science supports things like these, I wonder why it’s not more common to see things like this in the US? I know, I know, it usually takes 10-15 years for the science to be implemented, but can’t we speed that up a little?

    With Love and Gratitude,


  4. Kent says:

    Hahahah, I love it. It does light up my day in long driving distance. And, it inspires me to apply the same strategy for my online marketing.

    The world is getting chaos, we do need a lot of happy things like the signboard.

    Thanks Daniel for sharing! 🙂