Traffic Control Devices, the pesky impediments, motorists navigate through when encountering a road construction zone do more than impede the flow of traffic, they protect motorists and construction crews from the many dangers involved in highway renovation.
There are a variety of Traffic Control Devices motorist may encounter while traversing, the often white-knuckle lane changes that are inherent to road construction zones. The most often encountered Traffic Control Device is the sign – an old hat performing an old trick.
Traditional traffic control signs are constructed of retroreflective material. Retroflection was invented during the Great Depression and has evolved little since conception. Retroflection, although simplistic, creates visibility along the darkest of highways – it reflects light from a motorist’s headlights back towards the driver’s eyes. However, the discovery of electricity has allowed for Traffic Control Device innovation. `
Variable Message Signs, referred to as VMS, proclaim warnings via the magic of electric light (LED). Variable Message Signs may flash different messages, depending on the need. Variable Message Signs may be mounted on the back of trucks for portability. The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), as with all traffic control devices, sets strict rules about the dimensions of placement of VMS.
Signs forewarn motorists of encroaching dangers, yet, Channeling Devices guide motorists through the dangers of a road construction zone; they control the stream of traffic. Cones and drums are the most common of Channeling Devices, however, motorists may encounter arrow boards, barricades or Jersey Barriers. A Jersey Barrier is a modular concrete slab. They were designed to separate lanes of traffic – they are often deployed, in construction zones, along hairpin turns.
Although most Traffic Control Devices are physical objects, construction crews often control the flow of traffic, referred to as Flagging. These brave crew members stand along busy highways and direct traffic with flags. This method is often deployed when one lane is alternatively used for traffic flowing in either direction.
Traffic Control Devices, although considered an impediment by most motorists, direct the flow of traffic through the dangers of a construction zone. Motorists must heed, whether it’s a cone, sign or flag, the Traffic Control Devices.