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

Waze, what is that bar on the left for?

I’ve been using Waze for a few months now, and every now and then, a bar shows up on the left side. I’d glance down and see that it showed “something” was estimated to happen (or last?) for a few minutes, but I could not figure out what. We have a hands-free law here, so I could not legally take my phone off its holder and look at it more closely.

photo inside a car of an iPhone in a phone holder, displaying the Waze app map
Waze app in my car

The screen is probably 18″ from my eyes and I wear polarized sunglasses which makes the app even harder to interpret when glancing down for fractions of a second.

It took using Waze as a passenger to see that the bar’s label also had the word “Jam” (traffic jam?) in a light blue font. However, other times I’ve been driving and the bar has no label, so I’m still not sure what it’s for!

screenshot of the Waze map with a status bar on the left side that has no label to indicate its purpose
Waze left bar with no label

Design Recommendation

This is an easy one. Change the font color to white and bold it so that the word “Jam” is just as visible as the time estimate. And always include a label to indicate why the bar is there.

Waze map showing an orange status bar with "Jam 7 minutes"
Screen capture of the Waze map screen