Resource Center | What to Consider When Shopping for Traffic Signs
What To Consider When Shopping for Traffic Signs

What to Consider When Shopping for Traffic Signs

Traffic cones and barricades are wonderful indicators that there’s roadwork being done. However, even these tools can’t accurately convey directions to oncoming traffic or indicate the nature of the project. This is where having quality signs in your work zone is essential to increasing communication and overall safety in that environment. This is what to consider when shopping for traffic signs so that you can get just what you need.

Type of Sign Being Purchased

From stop, yield, and pedestrian paddles to arrow boards and roadwork markings, there are a plethora of different signs that could be used near a job site. Each of these models communicates a different message to the drivers passing by them. So, choosing the right traffic safety signs is vital to controlling traffic in the proper ways. This is why you should always have a clear understanding of what signs you’re going to need before you begin shopping for them. At a minimum, you must have work ahead, flagger, lane closure, stop, and slow signs available for use at any given time. It is recommended to always check first with your state or provincial regulations when using traffic signs on roadways.

Degree of Desired Retro Reflectivity

You should also think about what level of retro reflectivity you’ll need for a particular job. The amount of retroreflective material on a sign’s surface determines how much light will bounce off of it when exposed to headlight beams. This is the key to making the signs more noticeable to passing drivers and increases the likelihood that they will respond accordingly. There are three common grades of retro reflectivity that are used for traffic safety products.

  • Engineer grade or Types I, II, and III: This is made with enclosed lens reflective material and is most used for construction zone devices, delineators, and permanent highway signs. The nighttime visibility of Engineer Grade is about 500 feet away.
  • High Intensity Prismatic grade or Types IV, V, and VI: This is made with an encapsulated lens material and is also used for highway signs, construction zone devices, and delineators. These signs capture low amounts of light and amplify it so it can be seen from about 1000 feet away in the nighttime.
  • Diamond grade or Types VII, VIII, and IX: This provides the highest amount of reflectivity using a prismatic lens material on signs. These are generally used on faster interstate highways and very dark work zones. They allow the sign to be seen from even further away in the nighttime—approximately 1,500 feet.

Necessary Size To Be Visible

In addition to retro reflectivity, another thing to consider when shopping for traffic signs is the size the sign must be to be effective. While the right level of reflectivity will ensure that your signs are noticed in any condition, the size will make them easier to read for fast-moving drivers. Signs that are too small can be difficult to decipher and can become more of a distraction as the driver struggles to read them. Likewise, signs that are too big run the risk of overshadowing other crucial instructions. So, as a general rule, larger signs are better for faster moving roads such as highways, and standard 18- to 30-inch signs are good for normal, lower traffic conditions.

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