Warning: Defective Pictorial Warning on How to Deal with Mountain Lion Attacks

defective pictorial warningCourtesy of a rising 2L at the University of Memphis law school, we have another failed attempt at conveying warnings and instructions via pictorial symbols.

In evaluating pictorial warnings, remember that the principal purpose of pictorial warnings is to convey warnings to people who can’t read or read in a different language. If people could read the warnings, we wouldn’t need the pictures.

Thus, interpreting only the pictures, here’s what a non-English speaking park visitor might take away from these four frames of a sign warning about how to handle mountain lion attacks:

1. Top left: “After lion has bitten off your right hand, run AWAY from the lion. Follow the arrow. Never run toward a mountain lion.”

2. Top right: “Once you realize you can’t outrun a mountain lion and are handless, say the hell with it and give up.”

3. Bottom left: “If accompanied by children, offer them to the lion.”

4. Bottom right: “Don’t know. Can’t read it. That’s why I needed the pictures!”

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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