Signs of Summer

highway signThis summer, I’ve spent a lot of time on the road, chauffeuring my daughters to and from summer camps. My time on the open highway inspired me to devote the next few posts to the Signs of the Summer. We’ll look at some of the classic signs of the highway and answer a few questions.

First, let’s look at the blue highway exit signs. Called interstate logo signs or specific service signs, we often think of them as the signs for gas, food and lodging. But did you know that they also promote other services too? The other three services featured on the signs can be local attractions, pharmacies, and camp sites. Apparently, “local attraction” is subject to interpretation….

Do you ever get frustrated, though, that it seems the only food available off any exit is fast food or food served by one of the major national restaurant chains? There’s a reason for that. Advertising on a blue highway exit sign doesn’t come cheap, and it takes more than just money to get approved.

Many businesses have to offer public restrooms, emergency telephones, and be open 16-24 hours a day, 360 days per year to qualify – which is why you see larger corporations on those signs more often than local mom-and-pop stops.

highway signIn some states, establishments must be within a mile of the highway to qualify for the sign. And in Colorado, in addition to meeting other requirements, qualifying businesses must also offer drinking water. It seems like a lot of ridiculous legislation until you see how it’s done outside of the U.S. – who can wait 174 kilometers for an emergency phone?

Businesses pay for the sign’s development and construction, as well as the logo on the sign itself. Which is no small matter – while they might not seem so massive as you speed on by, those street signs measure up to 17 by 10 feet, with each logo 3 by 4 feet in size! (See this photo for scale).

Don’t forget to tune in next time when I take a look at some of the best digital highway message signs with some very entertaining messages.

Fuel for Thought,