Quality Dynamic Message Signs Exceed Industry Standards

Quality Dynamic Message Signs Exceed Industry Standards

This piece was originally published in the April 2016 issue of ei, the magazine of the electroindustry.

By Jay Swinea, Vice President, Transportation Sales, Adaptive Displays; and Michelle Bansemer, Marketing Manager, Adaptive Displays


Cities across the nation are embracing the needs of smart transportation through light-emitting diode (LED) displays for intelligent transportation systems (ITS). While adoption was initially slow, an increasing number of cities have discovered their benefits. If you are involved in civic planning or highway development in your city, LED traffic signs may be the solution you need.

While some municipal officials may hesitate at the slightly higher up-front cost of LED traffic signs, the signs more than pay for themselves in the long run. With lower energy consumption, better visibility, longer lifespan, and great versatility, LED signs have served and will continue to serve cities well for years. Reliability, long life, and low power consumption make LED displays more cost-effective than traditional lighting, despite the higher initial cost.

LED signs and displays have wide-ranging benefits. They

  • nearly eliminate the possibility of catastrophic failure because they continue to be readable even if several individual lighting elements fail;
  • use up to 93 percent less power than conventional bulbs;
  • operate off battery backups in the case of power failure, increasing reliability;
  • are easier for drivers to see and read, allowing them to focus more attention on traffic and pedestrians; and
  • are more easily seen at night, reducing confusion in low-lighting conditions.

LED traffic signs have multipurpose functionality. Large metropolitan areas can use them on local roadways to direct traffic for open and closed lanes, bike lane notifications, and no-parking regulations. On the highway, they can

  • display familiar graphics from the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices but with better visibility;
  • warn drivers of hazardous conditions, accidents, or detours;
  • provide drivers with time estimates for travel between important points; and
  • announce upcoming work zones, which gives drivers time to react and decelerate and protects construction workers.

With an all-weather case design, LED signs can operate for 10 years or more. Content can be updated remotely by computer, eliminating the need to send workers to adjust the sign itself, ultimately saving taxpayers money.

Large metropolitan areas can use LED DMS to customize traffic lanes, as seen here in Madison, Wisconsin. Photos courtesy of Adaptive Displays
Large metropolitan areas can use LED DMS to customize traffic lanes, as seen here in Madison, Wisconsin. Photos courtesy of Adaptive Displays

Customizing Your Messaging

When exploring potential solutions, environmental needs should be considered. A high-quality dynamic message sign (DMS) should provide multiple layers of protection.

Look for a sign that uses an internal mixing fan that turns on and cools the electronics. If the fan is not sufficient to cool the enclosure, an additional layer of protection is recommended that draws in outside air to lower the internal temperature.

The long life and versatility of LED displays make them ideal for a variety of ITS requirements: over-the-road DMS, variable speed limit signs, and trailblazer signs, in amber or full-color ITS display options.

The broad DMS product range covers virtually every messaging application from ITS to airports, buses, and rail.

Mr. Swinea is active in the NEMA Transportation Management Systems & Associated Control Devices Division. Ms. Bansemer specializes in product marketing.

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