Thursday, June 28, 2007

How hard is it to follow a simple set of instructions?

I found a picture of the most confusing set of instructions for a light switch you could ever imagine via Boing Boing today. And it reminded me of a sign I ran across when doing a story on pedestrian safety.

This sign rests under a crosswalk in New Brunswick, New Jersey. And to be honest, I can't understand why more people haven't been found dead in the middle of this intersection.

The photo comes courtesy of the New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center at Rutgers University.

5 comments:

chiron613 said...

I don't know... it makes perfect sense to me, if you read all the words. Of course, if you are in a hurry, trying to cross a street, then you may try to skim, and all you'll see are "Walk" "Don't Walk", which does get confusing...

Brad Linder said...

I think my issue is that it shouldn't take nearly so many words to explain a traffic signal with two words on it: Walk, and Don't.

It takes about as long to read this sign as it does to cross the street. Incidentally, if this is the street I think it is, the pedestrian almost never gets the signal anyway. We stood on that corner for about 10 minutes before giving up and jaywalking.

jaunesk@gmail.com said...

It will take a tragedy for people to wake up and start following instruction.

Thanks for visiting

SK

Riley said...

The central problem is the use of nested instructions to convey information about a potential hazard. (IF this, THEN this, ELSE this...) Anybody with the ability to decode the sign probably already knows how to cross the street...

A secondary problem is that the sign assumes fluency in English...

Fornicator said...

 agreed. If you don't understand it you have more problems than the sign does.

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