Blank Out Signs (BOS), due to their cost efficiency, design, and speed to market have long been employed, mostly in a MUTCD regulatory or warning sign capacity. Nationwide, there is increased attention to more situational traffic issues such as wrong way driving. Customizing designs whether in the message or actionable symbols, specialized Blank Out Sign applications are more rapidly moving up the ladder in importance with several manufacturing companies focused on furthering product development to fit industry trend for safer and simpler roadway information
On a recent trip to China related to my wife’s business, I was able to do a quick tour of ITS like Traffic signage in and surrounding the City of Shanghai, now the largest metropolitan city in the world at 24 million people.
Traffic operations professionals have long implemented Blank Out Signs (BOS) as reliable solutions to improving traffic flow, while increasing traffic safety, especially as attention grabbing warning signals in vulnerable zones or areas of recognized hazard. Prior blank out sign blogs have discussed merits of Blank Out Sign usage and applications. Given the nationally recognized need and value of blank out signs with repeated year after year growth in applied use, How do state and local governments monitor as well as control, remotely installed BOS? Ease of use, and low cost software is available for any number of blank out signs, regardless of message or use, via cloud based software.
The evolution of intelligent transportation systems has experienced in a very small window of time, the interactive communication of smartphones, more efficient data collection and tolling technologies, the better use of detection devices for warning systems as well as for transportation planning, and the early onset of market implementation of autonomous vehicles. Going back to core visceral beliefs, it is still the driver and the resulting decisions to the current transportation experience over the road that impact all of our safety. Trucking transportation best illustrates this experience.
In the past, we’ve blogged the proper use and application of Variable Speed Limit Signs on U.S. highways as it pertains to use relative to either traffic or weather conditions. Highlighted were typical designs and regulations with options regulatory agencies employ in color and size of the overall sign, both for the static and the LED aspect of the sign. In the majority of applications however, typical 12 or 18” characters employed fall short of MUTCD full compliance.
State DOT highway Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) are progressively capitalizing on comprehensive Variable Speed Limit (VSL) designs. As a more advanced and timely safety warning system, changing the speed limit based on weather or traffic conditions in focused locations offers more precise warning to stretches of especially vulnerable roadways. In often non-negotiable winter road conditions, unreliably slippery roadways require more precise, distinctly locational, lower speed limit advisories. Ideal weather conditions of summer, not so much. Variable speed limit systems are continually proven ITS safety devices in such states as New Hampshire, Wyoming, Minnesota, and Utah. The VSL Subscribers list continues to climb as a cost effective, dynamic messaging system, in particular with rural locations.
VSLs foster opportunity for DOT’s to utilize accurate placement for both regulatory and warning applications. Serving as warning signs with amber colored characters in particularly hazardous locations, the dynamic aspect of posting variable speed limits or for that matter, blanked out signs, creates a positive and engaging interface with the driving public. Applied as a regulatory sign, VSL’s with white characters bring into play stricter standards with law enforcement options. Excising proper design criteria, these signs can meet MUTCD standards for lettering in sizes 12 to 18 inches.
Defining the right type of sign for a specific project can be challenging. There are many different reasons and criteria that effect the choice of one product versus another. Designing a Variable Message Sign to solve a road safety challenge requires a thorough process and defined methodology - it is important to ask the right questions.
On one side, choosing the most advanced sign that can display anything, in any color, at any time is the easiest and most unlimited option. However, this often creates other challenges like power issues, monitoring complexity, and exorbitant costs for simple applications.
On the other side, very simple and cheap solutions exists, such as static signs with flashing beacons. Although, this can also have many disadvantages and does not solve most of the problems discussed in one of our previous blogs.
Throughout several blogs, we discussed the benefits of Blank Out Signs (BOS) and Lane Control Signs, and compared their technology against Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) and other types of signs. In this blog, we want to discuss the cost benefits of using Blank Out Signs and Lane Control Signs.
We recently published a blog about the 5 Display Properties Defined by NEMA TS4 and are continuing with our series referencing these specifications for Dynamic Message Signs (DMS). This installment will examine the Environmental Requirements described in Section 2 of NEMA TS4 that establishes the limits of operational conditions in which the DMS must perform. They are also intended to make sure the DMS is delivered in good condition.
The NEMA TS4 Hardware Standards for Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) with NTCIP Requirements is a product of the NEMA 3-TS, Transportation Management Systems and Associated Control Devices Section. It is intended to provide the user a safe, dependable, functional and easily maintained Dynamic Message Sign. To this end, the standard provides the minimum hardware and functional characteristics of electronically controlled DMS used for displaying messages to travelers.