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Touristic signage on German Autobahns – perception and reception

Touristic signage on German Autobahn
Touristic signage on a German Autobahn. Picture: Karl-Heinz Laube/pixelio

Perception and reception of touristic roadside signage – a study by Prof. Dr. Sven Groß and Christian Reinboth, Harz University of Applied Sciences

There is an ever-increasing number of touristic brown signs on German Autobahns. According to the Guidelines for Touristic Signage, these are supposed to both provide information on destinations of touristic interest and to give directions to the locations in question. However, whether or not they are actually noticed by drivers, whether drivers can remember these signs and the Points of Interest (PoI) shown on them, and whether they influence the drivers’ decision-making behaviour have as yet not been scientifically investigated. For the first time, an online survey now provides information on the answers to these questions.

With the help of touristic brown signs, travellers on Autobahns are supposed to be informed about sights, cities and landscapes (Points of Interest, PoI) past which they are travelling. The signage, which has existed in Germany since 1984, is regulated under the Road Traffic Act and the Guidelines for Touristic Signage (figure 386.3). It points out destinations that are either visible from the Autobahn or are in principle less than 10 km (as the crow flies) from an Autobahn junction.

In exceptional cases, linear distance may be further afield than this and more than two signs may also be erected between two nodal points. These signs typically feature a symbolic representation of touristic attractions or geographical objects accompanied by a short description.

This article was published in German by Prof. Dr. Sven Gross and Christian Reinboth, Harz University of Applied Sciences, following a peer review process as an original contribution in the “Internationales Verkehrswesen” journal (Internationales Verkehrswesen 71 (4), p. 40-45) under the title “Touristische Beschilderung an deutschen Autobahnen – Bedeutung der touristischen Unterrichtungstafeln”.

The present version is translated to English and can be accessed for free with this link: www.iv-dok.de/44-20200508.pdf