The parking lot signage checklist

As operators of cars, vans and trucks, we largely do as we're told. We don't park where it says "No parking," we don't turn left when it says "No left turn." Vehicle operators take for granted the amount and accuracy of the markings required for safe and efficient parking lots. It's important those lots communicate the rules effectively, and the key to that is proper signage. Any organization that intends to open an office, store, site or any other type of location may also consider building an accompanying parking lot. But before that happens, the company should take these considerations into account.

1. Have you taken the Americans with Disabilities Act into account?
The ADA set forth specific guidelines regarding correct signage for handicap spaces in parking lots, as well as the number, size, shape and orientation of those spaces. Every new parking lot must adhere to these guidelines in full.

2. Are you aware of your state's specific requirements?
In addition to the overall ADA guidelines, each state also has its own distinct additions and amendments to the regulations. While every state must comply with some aspects of the ADA proposal, the exact markings, height, colors and other parameters surrounding parking signs can vary.

The right sign can keep cars in line.
The right sign can keep cars in line.

3. Have you planned a comprehensive signage program?
The signs in the parking lot itself are only effective if they all align. In other words, it's important to create an overview of the signage in a lot so that each sign corresponds – from directional signs to pedestrian signs to parking lot exit signs, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Directional signs must be strategically placed to give the driver time to react. The agency also noted the importance of determining who will use the lot. For example, staff and visitor parking should be adequately delineated.

"You can't expect pedestrians and drivers to read several lines of text."

4. Do you know what your signs will say, specifically?
It isn't enough to have a sign say in general or uncertain terms where to go or what to do. On the other hand, you can't expect pedestrians and drivers to read several lines of text. Signs' messages should be direct, simple, consistent and large enough to read easily – even from a moving vehicle. The Department of Veterans Affairs recommends color coding, keeping signs to one concept or thought, communicating through positive terms and using both capital and lowercase letters.

5. Are you confident in the signs' durability?
Finally, there is the question of the products themselves. Sign manufacturers run the gamut – some use cheap materials and manufacture flimsy products, while others rely on durable materials to create long-lasting signs. But the best of these organizations take it a step further by providing an extra layer of protection against scuffing, scratching, fading and graffiti. That way, these signs won't need replacement soon after installation.

In short, there are numerous aspects of parking lot signage to thoroughly explore before undertaking this task. This checklist is designed to help you ask the right questions and find the best answers. Once you do that, you'll be able to ensure efficiency and accident prevention in your lot.

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