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A Total Guide to Traffic Cones

An orange cone with two reflective collars in a parking garage being used as a piece of traffic safety equipment

An estimated 140 million traffic cones are in use at any given time throughout the world. Since 1947, these orange, cylindrical traffic control devices have been used and produced en masse for our roads as one of the most effective pieces of traffic safety equipment. Not only may this come off as a shocking estimation, but the question then is: What are they used for, and why cones?

An Extremely Versatile Tool

To answer the question as to why cones, these pieces of traffic safety equipment, although designed for the asphalt, are not limited to only these kinds of areas. Cones are seen almost every day and in several different locations. From athletic fields, recently mopped areas, event parking, crosswalks, and on our roads, companies can easily store and disseminate these simple devices. Cones direct traffic, signal tasks, and can create a buffer between safety and danger.

Cone Requirements

Because of their high visibility, cones were primarily designed for safety, particularly on our roads. Attached to a wide and sturdy base, cones aren’t meant to topple, creating even more hazards on the roadways, and in fact, there are certain requirements when using these types of traffic control supplies. According to the MUTCD, there is a minimum (18 inches) and maximum (28 inches) height for cones, based on the speed and locations of the roads, meeting four basic requirements:

 

  1. Must be orange

  2. Must be made of PVC to avoid vehicle damage

  3. Must have a reflective collar for nighttime use

  4. Must be heavy enough to withstand any type of weather condition

Buffer Zones

A buffer zone is an open space behind the cone taper that provides safety for roadway workers and motorists alike. When creating a temporary traffic control area, the space between workers and motorists can be one of the greatest challenges regarding safety and roadway efficiency. The disruption of a standard traffic pattern is hazardous enough, but establishing a safe distance from traffic and roadway workers is something that effective cone placement can create. When combined with effective barriers, worksite planners can better consider the impacts that buffer zones have on road capacity and the operations in the area.

Most Effective Uses

Stalled or Crashed Vehicles

There is a science when it comes to maximizing a cone’s potential and making a difference on the roads. Not only are they able to mark traffic hazards like raised manhole covers, potholes, rough terrain, sharp turns, and low shoulders, but traffic cones can also inform drivers of stalled or crashed vehicles. The shoulder of the road is a dangerous area to be in, and when changing a tire or getting a vehicle back up and running, flashing hazards may not be enough, especially if a vehicle is stalled around a blind bend. Cones can help increase visibility, create early warning signs, and act as a buffer between traffic and the hazard.

Crowd and Traffic Control

At any crowded event, it can be difficult to clearly communicate off-limit areas as well as the proper flow of foot traffic. Cones seem to have a sentiment of authority that pedestrians naturally give heed to, understanding their importance as an effective piece of traffic safety equipment. While indoor events are one thing, traffic cones are extremely effective when it comes to directing vehicular event traffic outside, too. When event workers have the proper PPE, chances are you’ll have a safe and efficient event.

School Zones

Nothing is more important than the safety of our children. Cones are an exceptional piece of traffic safety equipment used to block off zones for children and alert drivers of school zones and the corresponding crosswalks. Parents can also easily use and store them for their personal use when keeping their children safe in their neighborhoods.

Interwest Safety Supply Does It Best

For over 40 years, our team at Interwest Safety Supply has made it our mission to provide the most reliable and effective traffic safety supplies for both the private and public sectors. Throughout these years, we have proudly served a variety of customers, including the Department of Transportation (state and federal), road contractors, general contractors, small-sign manufacturers, municipalities, airports, schools, universities, law enforcement, rental companies, and the private industry, and cones are just some of the many items we offer and excel in!

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