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Journal Article


Ben-Bassat T. Appl. Ergon. 2019; 78: 137-147.


Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, SCE - Shamoon College of Engineering, 84 Jabotinski St., Ashdod, 77245, Israel. Electronic address:


(Copyright © 2019, Elsevier Publishing)






Traffic signs are used to control and regulate traffic and create a safe environment for road users. Therefore, it is of great importance to ensure that road signs are easily understood and easily learned, especially by drivers. The current study, conducted in Israel, focused on the ability to learn unfamiliar road signs and on the effect of the compliance of those signs with principles of physical and conceptual compatibility (ergonomic principles for symbol design). A preliminary experiment tested the extent to which each of 30 signs, not used in Israel, complied with the compatibility principle. Based on this evaluation, the signs were divided into two distinctive groups - "ergonomic" signs and "non-ergonomic" signs. In the second part of the study, we tested the differences between the two groups of signs in terms of comprehension and learnability, conducting recognition-recall tests among 33 teenagers without a driving license.

RESULTS showed a significant design main effect, with a higher comprehension level associated with the ergonomic signs compared to the non-ergonomic signs. A significant learnability main effect was also found, with comprehension levels in the recall test significantly higher than in the recognition test for both groups of signs. In addition, the probability for improvement in comprehension based on learning the meanings of the signs was higher among the ergonomic group of signs. These findings demonstrate the importance of ergonomic design in shaping the understandability and learnability of road signs. The implications of the current results can be most relevant to tourists, as well as novice drivers.

Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Language: en


Compatibility; Ergonomic principles; Learnability; Recognition-recall; Traffic signs


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