I found a picture of the most confusing set of instructions for a light switch you could ever imagine via Boing Boing today. And it reminded me of a sign I ran across when doing a story on pedestrian safety.
This sign rests under a crosswalk in New Brunswick, New Jersey. And to be honest, I can’t understand why more people haven’t been found dead in the middle of this intersection.
The photo comes courtesy of the New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center at Rutgers University.
I don’t know… it makes perfect sense to me, if you read all the words. Of course, if you are in a hurry, trying to cross a street, then you may try to skim, and all you’ll see are “Walk” “Don’t Walk”, which does get confusing…
Brad Linder says
I think my issue is that it shouldn’t take nearly so many words to explain a traffic signal with two words on it: Walk, and Don’t.
It takes about as long to read this sign as it does to cross the street. Incidentally, if this is the street I think it is, the pedestrian almost never gets the signal anyway. We stood on that corner for about 10 minutes before giving up and jaywalking.
[email protected] says
It will take a tragedy for people to wake up and start following instruction.
Thanks for visiting
The central problem is the use of nested instructions to convey information about a potential hazard. (IF this, THEN this, ELSE this…) Anybody with the ability to decode the sign probably already knows how to cross the street…
A secondary problem is that the sign assumes fluency in English…
agreed. If you don't understand it you have more problems than the sign does.