Highways and Byways: Matching 3D Signage to Traffic Speed


Taking into account the average traffic speed at the intended placement site of a 3D billboard is an important (and often overlooked) aspect of the design process.  Depending on whether a sign is going to be installed along a highway, a secondary route or within a city, traffic will be moving at different rates, and 3D signs can maximize their impact by being sensitive to this fact. 

At highway speeds (65mph) an average sized billboard will be visible for approximately 4 seconds to a passing vehicle. Within a city this time more than doubles, and if situated at a stop-light can average 1-2 minutes of viewing time. Thus, for 3D billboards, as traffic speed increases signage detail should decrease, because most viewers will not have time to focus on fine detail before they are past the sign. The height of the sign also impacts the detail required. For many billboards the optimal viewing distance is 600 feet. At this distance surface texture and fine lines are not visible. In many ways this simplifies the production process because it is reduces the need to carve fine details or ensure a perfectly smooth finish. Of course, if a 3D billboard is going to be viewed closer up then you will probably want to take advantage of the technological advantages of a 3D scanner and 3D CNC router to capture and produce minute detail.   Considering the window of visibility for a billboard can both increase the efficacy of a sign as well as save considerable production costs. Why spend invest in details that will not be noticed when a simpler 3D shape might actually make a stronger impact? 

< Back