A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

Why is AMBULANCE stenciled backwards on the front of an ambulance?

July 21, 1989

Dear Cecil:

Why is the word "AMBULANCE" typically stenciled backwards on the front of an ambulance?

Cecil replies:

There are many who will think this question is dumb, C.L., but I know you are doing the best you can. It's so when the ambulance comes up behind your car, you'll be able to read the word "AMBULANCE" the right way in your rear-view mirror.

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