Dump Trucks, I Can’t See Your Little Sign

On dump trucks, I frequently see a tiny sign on the back (often partially covered in dirt) that reads:

Warning Stay Back 200 ft. Not responsible for broken windshields!

These signs are not only too small to read from 200 feet away as we’ll see, but it’s also unclear why not staying back might result in a broken windshield.

Warning Stay Back 200 ft. Not responsible for broken windshields!
Dump truck sign on the back
Photo of a dump truck with a very small warning sign on the back
See how small the sign is?

Here’s a picture of a dump truck on the highway approximately 200 feet away. I could barely tell there was at sign at all.

Dump truck on the highway
Dump truck approximately 200 ft. away

And here is the back of the truck at approximately 20 feet away. The image quality is low but it demonstrates just how small and illegible these signs are from the suggested 200 feet away.

Photo of the back of a dump truck
Dump truck approximately 20 feet away

Some might say, “Once you’re close enough to see the sign, you’re too close so the sign is telling you to back off.” I say, if you expect people to stay 200 feet away, your sign should be visible from that distance, probably more.

Design Recommendations

The back of a dump truck has a lot of real estate for a sign; use it! I created a sign that is highly visible while also informing drivers why they should stay back. A distance of 200 feet seems arbitrary, so I would depend on drivers to choose a safe distance.

Stay Back with an image of a dump truck dropping a rock that hits a car
Stay Back sign

This sign uses the standard highway font used in many countries, called Highway Gothic. It was designed to maximize legibility at a distance and at high speed.

Here’s a quick mock-up of what the new sign could look like.

Dump truck with 'Stay Back' sign
New dump truck sign

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