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The Battle Over Federal Highway Sign Fonts

The battle between fonts for highway signs dates back decades.




Federal highway authorities haven’t been able to decide what font makes for the clearest, safest road signage, leaving some states with signs written in a font called Highway Gothic, others with signs in Clearview, and some places with a mixture of both, according to a report from NBC Austin, TX affiliate KXAN-TV. 

In 1948, the Federal Highway Administration adopted Highway Gothic as it was considered to be a font that was easy to read for drivers. 

A reflective material added to Highway Gothic signs in the 1980’s was intended to allow drivers to see better at night, but the newer signs reflected more light back to drivers, who had a lot of trouble reading them. The elderly in particular had a difficult time. 

In 2004, Clearview became an option to use for road signage as it apparently helped make the signs less blurry to drivers. At present, some states have both types of signs on roadsides.

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