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Knowledge of Traffic Cone Placement

Nov. 14, 2022

Road workers use traffic cones every day to help guide drivers through potentially dangerous construction zones. But while this is a common practice, many beginners overlook one aspect of the process - the idea of traffic cone placement. How we choose to place these tools on the job site can greatly affect how drivers and other team members respond to traffic. Therefore, this is something that every worker should be aware of during site setup and teardown. Here's what you need to know about cone placement and its overall importance in establishing a safe work zone.


Mine Safety Cone

The Importance of Traffic Cone Placement

The placement of traffic cones is what allows vehicles to direct the flow of traffic. Positioning them in a strategic manner makes it easier for road construction professionals to clearly tell drivers where to go - and to do so in the safest way possible. As a result, this, combined with the direction of traffic signs, ultimately improves safety near and around work zones.


Precautions for Placing Traffic Cones

But it's not enough to understand the importance behind conscious cone positioning. In fact, it is also important for road construction professionals to understand the different factors that influence the best location. After all, no two job sites will ever be the same - it's up to you to determine the key differences and how it affects your process. These are a few of the key considerations for placing traffic cones around a job site


Work area size

If you're working on a larger construction site, you'll naturally need more cones to accommodate it. However, this also means you need to reconsider how you arrange the cones. As a general safety standard, the first few cones need to be placed about 250 feet from the official start of the construction site. These cones are placed in a progressively thinner fashion, slowly forcing traffic into the lane furthest from the work being completed. If your site is larger than one lane, the pattern will need to take this into account as well.


Traffic Volume

The volume of traffic and speed of travel in your area will also affect the way you place your sight cones. This is because the cones themselves are often closed to accommodate the speed and driving conditions of the road. For highways, crews must use cones that are higher than 28 inches and have higher reflectivity on the collar to ensure that the cones provide greater visibility at night and thus provide notice to drivers. This also means cones need to be placed in a way that provides additional buffer space and gives drivers more time to slow down or stop.


Additional Tips for Placing Traffic Cones

The most important thing about cone placement, however, is how you actually do it. While you need to adhere to specific standards, it is only through practice that you can effectively set them up for yourself. Here are some tips for you to keep in mind.


Use a Tapering Strategy

As mentioned earlier, a tapered cone pattern is essential for blocking lanes while indicating to drivers in advance. This helps them notice that their lane is disappearing and gives them more time to react to it. To do this, walk about 40 steps from the edge of the construction site and place the first cone along the shoulder. Back up 10 steps toward the site, then walk 3 feet into the roadway when it is safe to do so, and place the second cone. Repeat this process for each cone, taking a few more steps down the road until you place the last cone at the edge of the driveway.


Space Cones Are Equal

Once you have completed the cones, return and make sure they are evenly distributed. Doing so ensures that you create a consistent barrier for the traffic behind you and that there are no gaps where they could erroneously squeeze into the work area. The optimum distance is approximately 20 feet from one cone to the other. It is important to maintain the distance between cones even over the entire length of the job site.


Check your work from the driver's point of view

You also want to go back and check your cone layout from the driver's point of view before you officially start working. Are the transitions clear enough for them to understand? Does the cone arrangement match what your construction sign says? Asking yourself these questions from the driver's perspective will allow you to identify any problems with cone placement and patterns before they become a problem. It's important that your cone alignment makes as much sense as possible so drivers are less confused and more likely to follow it.


Reposition Them Throughout the Day

However, the work doesn't end there. That's because you should still check your cone position regularly throughout the day. It's not uncommon for cones to be worn, knocked over and pushed the wrong way by traffic or weather. So it's up to you and your team to get them back in the right place. Otherwise, communication between your placed traffic cones and passing drivers may be interrupted. Marking the placement of certain cones ahead of time can greatly help solve this problem by telling you where they should be without having to remeasure them.


Traffic cones and their placement are an important part of any type of job site. That's why at Traffic Safety Zone, we seek to provide our customers not only with quality construction traffic cones, but also with the knowledge to use them most effectively. Contact us if you have any questions about placing traffic cones.


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