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Empathetic Traffic Signs

If first you don't succeed, the saying goes, try, try again. That's what the town of Needham, Mass., did when traditional traffic signs near a...
by | December 21, 2008

If first you don't succeed, the saying goes, try, try again. That's what the town of Needham, Mass., did when traditional traffic signs near a middle school failed to slow drivers down. The town solicited its middle-school students to design signs that would slow their parents and siblings down by relating to them. The new signs bear slogans such as "Where's the fire? Slow Down!" And, "Slow Down!!! You may hurt the future." The idea is that seeing a child's handwriting and drawing will make parents relate to the sign in a way they never would have with traditional signage. Town Manager Kate Fitzpatrick got the idea from best-selling author Daniel Pink, who argues in his book "A Whole New Mind" that being empathetic coaxes better compliance. So far, the unique signage has proved so popular that it's gone up in nearby neighborhoods, and has also been used at the town's Vietnam Memorial, where a sign reads "Respect their sacrifice. Please keep off monuments." To learn more, contact Fitzpatrick at 781-455-7512.

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