Signs used to look different at night. Here's why.

Imagine it’s the 1990s. “Read my lips…” A new 1993 Ford Taurus wagon bounces along an off-ramp to your right. Overhead in the night sky, an illuminated roadway guidance sign.

Road signs used to have a funny look to them at night. These green-painted signs would look black, despite being lit from underneath. In the day, text would be shaped by solid white lines. At night, text would appear as a bunch of shiny dots.

These old signs are mostly gone. Replaced with a new type of sign making called retroreflectivity. But the change is not 100% improvement. Retroreflective signs wear out. The old way built signs that would last forever.

Road Guy Rob

Rob is a 12-year veteran public radio reporter and talk show producer. Other staffers at the station called him the "road guy" because he kept running off to cover all the transportation stories. Rob has degrees in Geography (BS, 2010) and Civil Engineering (MS, 2018).

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