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Guidelines for Using Parking Safety Signs

Parking safety signs enhance public well-being when used properly. This post will outline basic principles to follow when installing signage in parking lots. Important note: this is intended as a high-level introduction to the topic. Please refer to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) or to your state’s transportation handbook for detailed information.

Guidelines for Installing Parking Safety Signs

Sign installers should consider the following ten factors when installing parking signs:

  1. Typical driving patterns within the lot.
  2. Where are the access points to the lot located?
  3. What is the preferred direction of travel within the lot? Some lots are spacious enough to permit vehicles to drive side by side in opposing directions. In other locations, one-way direction is preferable.
  4. Where are buildings and other facilities located in relation to the lot?
  5. Is electrical power available in the lot? This is important because some parking safety signs require electricity in order to function properly. Also, the presence of electrical wires may mandate the use of additional safety notices, depending on the specific circumstances.
  6. How well-lit is the lot? Does it present dark or obscured areas that can hinder use of the facility?
  7. When and how is the lot used? Is it only open during certain periods of the day, or does it offer 24/7 access?
  8. What are the conditions of the surrounding area? Is there a high local crime rate? Is road construction going on nearby? Are accidents or injuries a common occurrence?
  9. Is the lot paved? If not, is it a simple dirt lot, or is it covered in gravel or a similar product?
  10. Does the lot require parking safety signs designating handicapped, staff member, or other assigned areas?

Once planners have chosen the best locations for traffic signs, they should then consider signage design and wording. Here are eight guidelines to help with this process:

  1. Sign text should be brief and to the point. Unnecessary words and graphics will only confuse viewers.
  2. Sign terminology should be consistent; communicate the same information in the same way.
  3. Use as few words as possible to convey the message; preferably no more than seven to eight words.
  4. Use a mix of upper and lowercase letters. This makes parking safety signs easier to read.
  5. Take into account the average vehicle speed when deciding on sign text. Signs intended for drivers moving at greater speeds should be especially short and to the point.
  6. Use space to good effect. A sign that has two or more messages should include empty space between the sections to avoid confusing viewers. Always place the most important information at the top of the sign.
  7. Text should never run to the end of the sign; always use a margin.
  8. Avoid condensing the typeface on parking safety signs if at all possible. If space is limited, then reduce the number of words, use commonly accepted abbreviations, or employ a smaller font. Crowding letters will only make the sign more difficult to read.

Other Guidelines for Parking Safety Signs

  • Signs should always be perpendicular to the intended viewer if possible.
  • Install signs so there is a clear line of sight from the intended viewer to the text. Keep shrubs and other potential obstructions out of the way. If the lot is in an area that receives frozen precipitation, then advise workers to never pile snow in front of the signs.
  • Parking safety signs become less visible when wet. For this reason, never place sprinklers near them. The groundskeeper should avoid spraying signs with a hose when performing watering or cleaning duties.
  • Never place parking safety signs close to the 12 inches to a walkway.
  • Always leave a buffer zone between signs and car bumpers.


Parking safety signs play a vital role in modern society. Following the rules outlined in this post will help officials in their mission to ensure parking safety.