The History of Traffic Cones

You will meet a high number of traffic cones during the course of your lifetime and there is a good chance you might find one or two in your garden, often leaving you to wonder how they arrived there in the first place.

Statue of Hume. Edinburgh. May 2006.

Statue of Hume. Edinburgh. May 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The purpose for traffic cones on the U.K.’s roads is well known and observed, but did you know they were invented by Charles P Rudeebaker in 1914? Unlike today’s plastic models, the original models were made completely of concrete. 

As materials have changed over the years and technology has rapidly increased, manufacturing and materials of traffic cones have change considerably. Today’s traffic cones have added a reflective collar so that when light from a car shines on them in the dark, drivers can see them from a long way off.

Their use was increased during the 1950s in the UK,  because the police force started placing them extensively across the road systems. At that time, traffic cones were made of wood. 

It was during this period that people began to understand that a traffic cone was designed to work in a special way  when you saw them on the road you knew they were there to give you a unique warning, in particular, to help you keep away from areas of the roads that were being repaired.

In some countries of the world, but not yet in the UK, having a traffic cone in your car for emergency purposes is seen as an essential facility for when your car breaks down in a dangerous position, enabling you to position a traffic cone far enough away from your car which lets other drivers know to steer around you.

Temporary traffic control signs are available in a variety of sizes, and while we all expect to see them as a mixture between red and orange, they are manufactured in a range of different colours and used to help traffic direction in private locations as well as public roads.

Where you decide to purchase your own model and keep it in your car to help with your safety in a future emergency, a model that is at least 2 foot high and 9 inches across at the base is the minimum required for it to be seen easily at a relatively close distance. If you want people to see the cone from further away, a 3 foot model that is at least 1 foot across the base will be best suited for your needs.

Despite the obvious way that cones are located in many different locations away from roads in the UK, they are not free items that you are allowed to pick up and take with you wherever you want. Because so many are required on Britain’s roads, they are an  expensive cost for either the local authorities or companies working on our road system.

Nevertheless, you would be hard pushed to explain to your children why four traffic cones in your garden are not the goalposts from Wembley Stadium.


2 thoughts on “The History of Traffic Cones

  1. Pingback: How Temporary Traffic Control Signs Can Save Lives | Roads And Motorways Services

  2. Pingback: Beware the Cone Zone | Edward Antrobus

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