After over a decade of planning, the move to change the font used on road signs across the United States has been scrapped.
The Clearview Hwy typeface was approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in 2004 and expected to eventually replace the existing Highway Gothic typeface. Clearview was thought to improve legibility, especially at night, and reduce glare and improve legibility distance. Unfortunately, recent tests have shown the data to be flawed.
Clearview was developed with research conducted at the Texas Transportation Institute and the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute, where according to Popular Mechanics, the font was readable from 80 feet further away than Highway Gothic. This was largely due to the fact that it was designed with more negative space in letters such as lowercase a, e, and s.
However, after further research, it was revealed after subsequent studies that Clearview was in fact less legible than Highway Gothic when used in dark letters on white or yellow backgrounds, such as speed limit signs. It was also found to be less legible on street name signs.
At least 30 states or some cities within them have begun using Clearview, leading to a mix of both fonts used across the US and often inside the same state. The FHWA has rescinded the Clearview approval, meaning that signs using Clearview will have to change them back when they are replaced, eventually restoring Highway Gothic as the sole typeface on American road signs.