Reps. Johnson and Johnson Introduce SIGN Act to Address Roadway Safety
by Sam Johnson on April 18, 2017 at 10:38 AM
Last week, Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) and I introduced the Safe Innovative Guide signs for the Nation (SIGN) Act. This bill would allow states the flexibility to use the Clearview font on road signs – an innovative font that research shows increases roadway safety.
Millions of Americans use roadways every day, and road signs play an important role in keeping folks safe. It’s common sense that the clearer a sign appears, the sooner someone can read and react to it. That’s why Texas and many other states started to update their road signs after the Clearview font received interim approval. Unfortunately, last year the Federal Highway Administration in Washington revoked its interim approval of this more safety-friendly font. As a result, states are no longer able to use Clearview font, despite the fact that it has been successfully used for over a decade. Today’s bill rights this wrong and allows states the opportunity to use clearer font on their roadway signs in order to keep drivers safe. I thank my colleague, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, for joining me on this important effort, and I look forward to getting this responsible bill swiftly signed into law.
“We must ensure the American people that we are doing everything we can to keep them safe while they travel on the roads. That is why I joined my colleague, Rep. Sam Johnson, to introduce the SIGN Act,” says Congresswoman Johnson. “Prior to a recent change in law, research showed that the Clearview font was positively impactful for those viewing road signs. We should be proactive rather than reactive when assessing the issue of accidents on the road. I believe the SIGN Act will help address the issue of safety along our highways.”
Leading up to the introduction of the SIGN Act, the Texas Department of Transportation issued the following statement in a letter:
“The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is appreciative of your assistance and legislative efforts to allow the continued use of the Clearview Font on Positive Contrast Legends on Guide Signs. As written, your legislation provides a remedy to a problem we have been working to address for more than a year.”
Clearview is an innovative font that was designed to be easier to read at long distances and at night compared to traditional Highway Gothic – a font first created in the 1940s. In 2004, the Federal Highway Administration gave interim approval for states to use Clearview font. Under the interim approval, states could request permission to use Clearview font on signs along their roadways. An estimated 26 states used the font, including Texas.
Despite the extensive use of Clearview across multiple states, FHWA abruptly terminated the font’s interim approval in 2016 without soliciting public comment. Many states strongly objected to the termination and have voiced their support for the flexibility to use Clearview. These states point to a large body of research demonstrating the font has a positive impact on roadway safety.
For instance, a Michigan Department of Transportation study estimates that Clearview cut the number of freeway night crashes by 26%. In addition, a recent study from researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Texas A&M University found that Clearview font performed better than Highway Gothic across all tests.