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See How Blank Out Signs Can Replace MUTCD Traffic Signs With Flashers

MUTCD Traffic Signs vs Blank Out Signs

Static MUTCD traffic signs are often used to warn drivers of specific conditions or potential danger on the roadway, and in many applications are equipped with flashing beacons to provide alert capability for passing motorists. However, many of these signs do not efficiently convey information necessary for drivers to fully understand the circumstances and actions to take to avoid danger.

Here below is a series of examples with comments related to the efficiency of the message:


MUTCD Traffic Signs  “When  Flashing” Issues


Example #1: Over Height Load When Lights Flash

MUTCD-Traffic-signs-when-flashing.jpgDifficult to interpret: you must read the entire message and realize beacons are flashing to start acting.

Confusion with no options listed: Message lacks clear direction on necessary corrective action

What do you do if you are driving an over height vehicle? Do you stop in the middle of the road?

Less visibility Message is not clearly visible in low light or poor weather conditions. Flashing lights hamper view. With limited lighting, easily missed.

Familiarity breeds antipathy- Message is permanent and assimilated by local motorists. Local drivers get familiar with unchanging sign resulting in lack of concern creating low awareness levels, regardless of conditions on the roadway.


Example #2: Great Highway Closed When Flashing

MUTCD Traffic Signs great-higway.jpgTwo signs for one message- Message is displayed in two separate segments leading to confusion. These signs are even more difficult to read. Different elevations, 5 lines.

Flashing beacons are not clearly part of overall warning system: Flashers not aligned with the signs- can lead to total misinterpretation. Flasher creates three visual levels and no vertical alignment.

No indication of action or expectation. Message lacks clear direction on necessary corrective action. Drivers are left without choices and unguided providing potential traffic complications



Example #3: Be Prepared to Stop When Flashing  

MUTCD Traffic Signs-when-flashing-2.jpg

Disconnected messaging-Provides instruction but only when flashing. "When Flashing" sign is too small and barely visible.

Lack of change- Message is permanent and assimilated by local motorists. Repeated familiarity with message not extinguished breeds lack of interest /awareness.

Secondary message is not clearly legible



Blank Out Signs Solutions

LED Blank Out Signs are capable of delivering warning messages such as the ones shown in the examples above in a far more efficient manner than traditional static MUTCD traffic signs. Blank Out Signs utilize LEDs capable of displaying each message clearly and legibly in any light or weather conditions, and can be set to flash the entire message or a part of it to provide clear warning of impending danger.

The message on each Blank Out Sign is only displayed once an actionable event triggers activation of the sign, so the message is only seen when a warning and associated action is necessary. Motorists are far more likely to react to this method of messaging when compared to messaging that is permanently displayed on a static sign.

Blank Out Signs can also be configured to display multiple messages or phases, allowing them to not only provide warning, but to also deliver instruction on the actions that need to be taken as a result of the warning message.


Using a blank out sign dramatically improves or eliminates all these areas of concerns:


Example #1: Vehicle Activated Dynamic Curve Warning Systems

MUTCD Traffic Signs vs Blank Out Sign solutions.jpg

A Blank Out Sign's versatile design and ease of customization allow any combination of symbols or messages, especially with SESA unique technology.

To warn approaching drivers of a dangerous curve, a Vehicle Activated Sign is positioned ahead of the dangerous curve or dangerous road pattern and will be activated only when a vehicle arrives. Studies show that this kind of system allows an average speed reduction of 7mph which leads to a reduction of one third of accidents. http://www.imsasafety.org/journal/ja09/17.pdf


Example #2: The message illuminated ONLY when the danger exists or When situationally required.

MUTCD Traffic Signs vs Blank Out Sign Be prepared to stop.jpg

 The completely lit message of a blank out sign creates automatic and captive focus. For example “Prepare to Stop” will be ON only when needed. Message directly stimulate alert behavior. In this case, the message can flash, heightening awareness; a glaring and notable weakness of a static sign is this lack of stimulation to the road weary or distracted driver.

MUTCD Traffic Signs vs Blank Out Signs-Ice-on-bridge.jpg

This “ICE ON BRIDGE” sign will be illuminated only when ice is detected and particular attention is required

Example #3: Blank out sign may indicate what action to take.

In the case of an over weight detection system, a Blank Out Sign will alternate between two phases- “TRUCK BYPASS WEIGH STATION” or “TRUCK MUST ENTER WEIGH STATION”. The Blank out sign receives data from a weigh sensor automatically displaying the appropriate message. Message is extremely clear with direct instruction.

MUTCD Traffic Signs vs Blank Out Signs-truck-weigh-station.gif

In the photos shown above, LED Blank Out Signs provide clear instruction to oversized vehicles that must either enter or bypass weigh stations located near the roadway.

Example #4: The sign can reproduce a “Warning” MUTCD traffic symbol and alternate with an instruction.

“Train / No TURNS”, is exceptionally clear when a train is approaching with NO TURNS possible when the sign is ON. When no train is oncoming, the sign is off with traffic not disturbed as with a static sign message display.

MUTCD Traffic Signs symbol-and-alternate.png

Each BOS can also be triggered by a variety of sensors and different messages can be displayed based on danger severity or roadside conditions.


Example #5: Sign triggered by any sensor with a matching action message displayed, based on danger severity

In example shown below, the proposed Blank Out Sign clearly indicates there is water on the road and the road is closed. It proposes a detour.

Efficient messaging such as this cannot be achieved with standard MUTCD traffic signs.

 MUTCD Traffic Signs vs Blank Out Signs-Flood Warning Sign.jpg

Level 1: WATER ON ROAD / SLOW DOWN: The amount of water is low but the road is still passable
Level 2: FLOOD / ROAD CLOSED: Water levels are too high, road is not passable 

The proposed Blank Out Sign above, clearly indicates there is water on the road or the road is closed. Concise with measured and controlled options available, with alternative routes viable. This very efficient messaging is not achieved in a static sign messaging display or flash system



SESA BOS Technology:

SESA’s Blank Out Signs technology provides several cost effective solutions for state and municipal agencies. These versatile Blank Out Signs are capable of displaying multiple messages or symbols (typically 3-4 messages/symbols) as an alternative to providing expensive, full matrix DMS. SESA proposes a multi-phase BOS customizable for each project and client at any size and dimension.

SESA’s design utilizes robust LED technology that allows its engineers to design a wide variety of symbols and text, and accommodate them within standard sizes or custom built housings. All signs meet MUTCD requirements and housings are built to comply with NEMA 3R standard. SESA’s multi-phase BOS are built without a polycarbonate panel, eliminating glare and the phantom effect which can distract drivers, while still maintaining high contrast ratio.

Several options are available for activation of each BOS, such as vehicle activation and remote control activation, and housings can be customized with sun visors or painted to client specifications. Consistent with all SESA products, these BOS were designed with high-energy efficiency and most can be solar powered and controlled remotely – perfect for rural applications or sites where power or communication are non-existent or costly/difficult to install. 



Multi phase Blank Out Signs possess multiple advantages including duplicating MUTCD traffic symbols while indicating clear instructions to regulate traffic flow and improve safety. Blank out signs can be used everywhere given the advantage of capable integration to SESA solar power systems, with all sizes or types, custom or standard, available.

Any questions regarding BOS design and application, please contact us for free consultation 
One of our reliable and qualified technicians will provide a professional drawing and cost estimate for your sign.

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