What Are Traffic Control Devices?

traffic safety

Do you ever get curious about those big programmable signs you see on the side of the road? About who programs them and where they plug them in? Or about where all those traffic cones and barrels come from, anyway? It seems like there's a limitless supply of them. Like every city in this country must just have gigantic warehouses filled with stacks of orange cones and barrels, and a team of fast-working elves who get out there on the side of the road and put them all up and program those signs to say things.


Whether you are a naturally curious person or not, should at least know what the basic categories of traffic control devices are, and what purposes they serve. For one, it will keep you more informed and aware on the road. And for two, when the inevitable traffic control device category comes up at your next trivia night, you'll be able to step in for your team and be the hero, for once, finally making up for the fact that you know very little about baseball prior to 1960. Take that, Greg.


Here are a few basic traffic control device categories.


Channelizing Devices

This term may make you think of a TV remote control, but actually channelizing devices are simply traffic control implements design to direct the flow of traffic in a certain way. Traffic cones, barrels and water barricades all serve this purpose. They're bright, they're visible, and they're relatively lightweight, which makes them easy to deploy. They are not so lightweight that you ever want to run into them with your car, however. Especially the water barricades. Don't hit those.


Traffic Signs

Of all the ways of communicating information to drivers on the road, traffic signs are the most common and simple. They use clear, easily-read colors and symbols to communicate important details to drivers quickly. They represent a universal language of the road, and there are many, many types. For a more detailed breakdown, check out our article all about traffic signs.


Programmable Message Boards

Sometimes, a message is too complex to be communicated via a traffic sign. A temporary change in a traffic pattern, for example, needs to be explicitly communicated to drivers via a written message. That's where programmable message boards come in. Reputable traffic control device companies like Traffic Safety offer solar-powered programmable message boards that are energy efficient and are pretty much a 'set it and forget it' option when it comes to displaying critical traffic information to drivers. All in all, programmable message boards are one of the most effective ways to make drivers aware of conditions on the road.


Why Traffic Control Devices Matter

Understand that the purpose of traffic control devices is never to make your life more difficult. They are always intended to protect you and other drivers. The right traffic equipment can make an unsafe traffic scenario safer, and protect you on the road. So the next time you see a bunch of traffic cones or barrels, a traffic sign, or message board on the side of the road, know that it was probably placed there by a traffic safety professional who is looking out for you, and helping you get from point A to point B safely. Now isn't that a nice feeling?