Monday, January 18th, 2021

INDUSTRY FEATURE: The History of Road Signs & Traffic Control

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Uniformity in Road Markers Encourage a Culture of Driver Safety

The evolution of traffic signs in the United States have come a long way since the mass production of automobiles. From hand-painted terrain markers, to the modern standardized reflective signs – communication with drivers has always been crucial to safe driving.

Some of the earliest road signs placed in the United States are credited to the American Automobile Association (AAA). The organization formed in 1899 largely in part to place signs along busy roads and to help travelers reach their destinations. Soon, other local automobile clubs began posting their own signs as well, creating confusion and disorder along popular interstate routes.

Standardized signs weren’t formalized until 1923 when the Mississippi Valley Association of State Highway Departments (MVASHD) agreed to standardize sign shapes and paint colors.

• Round: Railroad crossing warning
• Octagon: To stop
• Diamond: To show that precautions need to the be taken in a specific area
• Square: To show some care needs to be taken occasionally
• Rectangular: For directional or regulation information
• Star-Shaped: A unique shape used to mark highways

Shortly after, Road signs were being embossed and mass produced. Since the embossing machine could only support sheet metal up to 24 inches wide, that became the standard size for signs.

Over the years, additional formal regulation has been enacted both Nationally and locally. As our communities grow and change, so must the safety and communication for drivers traveling any distance. If there’s one thing that will remain the same, it is that Traffic Management, Inc. will always be Serious About Safety.

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