Guides

traffic cones on the street

The Science of Traffic Cone Placement

You’ve seen them a million times, because they’re all over the place: traffic cones. Whether it’s a minor inconvenience that makes you turn and take another street, or if you find a whole area of town is covered in them, you’ve been affected by those little orange cones more than once. There are an estimated 140 million being used at any point worldwide.

Even though we see them all the time, how much thought do you really pay traffic cones when you see them? If you’re like most people, the answer is: none.

In case you’re curious, or in case you need to know for your own paving project, here is an in-depth guide to traffic cones: what they are, what they are used for, and more.

How are cones used by contractors and pavers?

Also called TTC (temporary traffic controls) or safety cones, orange traffic cones are used to redirect traffic in a multitude of situations. They’re used to redirect drivers to avoid construction zones (such as when parts of pavement has recently received work or been sealcoated), and also to avoid road damage.

Traditionally, shorter traffic cones are 18-inches tall and used in lower-speed areas. Residential locations are where you are most likely to find these small, iconic cones.

Larger, 28-inch tall cones are used in high-speed areas like highways. They are more visible and can thus direct traffic from a further distance.

Basic usage guidelines include:

  • They must be orange and made of a material that can be struck by a car without causing major damage to the vehicle.
  • Day time and low-speed areas must use cones at least 18 inches high.
  • High-speed areas must use cones at least 28 inches high.
  • For nighttime use, cones must have reflectors. Cones 26-38 inches high must have 2 bands of white reflectors that measure 6 and 4 inches wide. 
  • They must be heavy or stable enough to withstand traffic and weather conditions. They can be doubled to increase weight in windy conditions. Ballast should be added minimally to keep them from moving while still preventing possible vehicle damage.

More details are available at the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices web page.

 

How do Drivers React to Traffic Cones?

Guidelines for acting Safety in Traffic Cone Areas

Remember, especially if you are driving a large truck or other heavy vehicle, cones don’t slow you down, your brakes do. Be sure to:

  1. Slow down with care near any cone zone.
  2. Stay alert: try to avoid any distractions like your phone, radio, or anything else.
  3. Think about any cone as though there were a person standing behind it.

 

Driving Safely in a Cone Area

Go Slowly

  • Always plan a route for extra travel time in the case of construction or other road blockages (i.e., expect the unexpected). 
  • Pay attention to the posted speed limits. Not only is it more dangerous to speed in cone zones, there are usually higher fines.
  • Allow extra space between vehicles. You can’t help being tailgated, but you can avoid tailgating the person in front of you.

Avoid Distractions

  • Don’t text or use any devices while driving. Just focus on the road.
  • Follow signs, flags, and worker directions.

Respect Roadside Workers

  • Slow down and pay attention in cone zones, even if you don’t see anyone working.
  • Be patient. 
  • Make eye contact with workers you do see, so they know you are aware of them.

Long story short: slow down, pay attention, follow the rules. If you do those things, you could save somebody’s life.

 

When to use Traffic Cones

Generally, individual drivers don’t carry any cones in their vehicle, and will be unlikely to use them. In fact, most people seem to think that cones are only for professional and construction purposes. However, there are times when they could be useful to you. For instance:

  1. Cones alert oncoming and passing traffic to your position. They are much more effective than a stopped car, even one with the emergency lights flashing. If people see cones around your vehicle, they are more likely to slow down, and even stop to help.
  2. If your car’s battery has died, the hazard lights might not work at all. Cones with reflectors can get people’s attention, not only to inform them to slow down, but to let emergency help know where you are.
  3. Cones can block off more area than just your car. In the case of a serious emergency like a traffic accident, you might need to place cones to protect car wreckage or an injured person. A stopped car only alerts other drivers to the car, whereas cones can block off and bring attention to a whole area.
  4. Cones can give advance warnings when there are sharp turns or hills that prevent long-distance viewing. This ensures safety by letting approaching drivers know what is coming up.

 

What are some other uses for traffic cones?

There are plenty of traffic cone uses outside of construction and roadside use. Obviously, cones are used to redirect traffic in the case of asphalt damage or construction, but they have plenty of other uses, some of which might surprise you.

They Can Warn of Indoor Hazards

Construction sites both outdoors and indoors can use traffic cones to warn people where not to drive or walk. Maybe the floor is slippery, or maybe it’s unstable; either way, traffic cones can be used for vehicular or foot traffic. They are also generally great ways to keep people out of remodeling or construction areas in general.

Controlling Foot Traffic in Crowded Areas

Cones are symbol of authority, too, since people think they’re only used by professionals. Therefore, they can be used both indoors and outdoors in crowded areas to cordon off areas for VIPs or simply to prevent overcrowding. You’ve probably seen some used in these situations and not even realized it.

 

Paving the Way for Better Cone Use

If you are looking for paving contractors who really know their stuff, including traffic cone use. Look no further than Reliable Paving. We are a high-quality paving contract with years of experience. We can do whatever job you have in mind when it comes to asphalt paving, asphalt repairs, and more, all while maintaining the highest level of safety standards—even down to our use of traffic cones.

parking lot

Parking Lot Maintenance for Lots that Receive Heavy Use

There are plenty of reasons to keep your parking areas well-maintained. First, you don’t want anyone’s car damaged if they use your lot. And second, the parking lot is often the first part of the business that a client experiences. A well-maintained parking lot reinforces the ideas of professionalism and quality. And third, well-kept asphalt degrades far slower and requires less expensive repair.

The level of use your lot receives complicates the maintenance of your asphalt. Places like grocery stores and restaurants have it easier, because they can do maintenance during closing hours. However, the case is not the same for airports, hospitals, and places that are used constantly—every day of the year. 

 

The Basics of Parking Lot Maintenance

Immediately after building your parking lot, start a maintenance routine

Keeping your lot maintained helps it in many ways. It saves money by being safer. A safe lot won’t have liability issues of customers injuring themselves or damaging their vehicles. It improves customer opinion of your business; a degraded and poorly maintained lot will give customers a negative impression before they even enter the building. And finally, a well-maintained lot won’t get seriously damaged as quickly, so you won’t have to fork over more money for serious repairs later on.

When your asphalt is installed, have it sealcoated 3-6 months later. A good plan for future parking lot maintenance is crack-filling and sealcoating every 3-5 years. You will want the lot treated more often depending on usage and weather conditions in your area.

Here is a good routine maintenance plan from Washington State University. 

Practice frequent visual inspections

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Set up a routine schedule for taking a look at your parking lot. Small problems like cracks, oil/gasoline stains, and standing water can be identified early that way. Cracks can be filled, chemicals removed, and drains cleaned in order to prevent much bigger future problems.

Keep it clean

Dirt and debris can cause few serious problems. They can damage cars and then asphalt when cars drive over them. Debris and garbage can be dangerous to people using the parking lot—broken glass, rusty metal, etc. can severely injure people. Dirt and debris can also block drains, causing damage and water build-up. 

Remove oil and gasoline immediately

These chemicals cause serious damage, so the sooner you deal with them, the better. Solvents like gasoline break down the binder that glues the asphalt together. The binder is the most expensive part of asphalt, and the hardest to repair. If you keep it in good condition, your pavement will last much longer.

Fill/seal cracks

Simply put: small cracks can lead to big ones. If you deal with the small cracks immediately, you solve two problems. Sealing small cracks prevents them from radiating out and creating more cracks (and, eventually, potholes). Sealing the small cracks also prevents water from getting in them and turning them into big cracks.

Clean out drains

Cleaning the drains around your parking lot helps get water out of there. Water is the main force of degradation and erosion in parking lots, and in nature. Even if you don’t live in a place with freezing temperatures, water can cause serious damage. Small amounts of water get into cracks, and then expands when the temperature drops. In a place that freezes, this can cause huge cracks to form overnight. In arid climates, where the temperature changes a lot according to time of day, this causes a huge amount of wear and tear on your lot.

Reroute traffic after maintenance

In order to ensure that your repairs can set, make sure to block of the area that was just worked on. This can be as easy as setting up some orange cones, or even blocking off a whole section of a parking lot.

If you want an in-depth manual for parking lot maintenance, look here.

 

How to Perform Maintenance on Parking Lots that are Used Heavily

The rules change quite a bit when your lot needs to be used 24/7/365. However, a few guidelines can significantly help you maintain a constantly used parking lot.

Routine visual inspections are more important

Because you won’t be able to shut the whole lot down, inspection is of utmost importance. Having one or several people inspect the lot doesn’t cut down on parking space or business, and it helps find problems faster. 

Fix small problems first

Fixing small cracks, cleaning, and removing gas/oil drippings goes a long way to preventing expensive and time-consuming repairs. A simple filling and sealing of a small crack means you don’t have to do a deep pavement repair. Smaller repairs can take days and hours, while larger repairs will take days and/or months. Fixing the surface is far easier than the foundation. Cleaning junk off a blacktop’s surface is easier than pulling it out of drains.

Build more space than you need

When you first build your lot, make sure to build more parking space than you think you will need. You build more space so that you can alternate which spaces are used according to repairs and maintenance.  If you have twice as much parking space as your business can accommodate, you can shut down half of your lot for repairs and still do 100% business. Having more space to work with also makes it easier to do routine work like cleaning and inspection.

Routine is important

Sticking with a maintenance routine is key. On top of reacting to damage as it appears, regular maintenance will help prevent non-visible damage. Things like sealcoating and cleaning help increase the pavement’s lifespan and prevents deeper damage later on.

 

Ready to Start Working on your Parking Lot?

Get in touch with Reliable Paving. Reliable paving is the Texas paving contractor that provides high-quality, professional service at affordable prices. Our services include asphalt paving, maintenance, repairs, striping, sealcoating, and much more. Whether you want your customers to have a good impression of your business from the moment they park, or you just want to repair your parking lot, Reliable Paving is the option for you. 

 

How to Hire the Best Paving Contractor

Businesses face plenty of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is always deciding on who to use as a contractor when paving work has to be done. There are plenty of ways to pick out a good choice, from seeking a colleague’s recommendation to jumping on Google for a quick search.

The question will often boil down to this: do you want the cheapest serviceable work, or do you want to pay for quality? Is there a better way to ensure getting the best bang for your buck?

Choosing the right asphalt paving company for your business

Paving is a pretty specific, specialized industry. You should look for the right traits in a company to make your choice of paving contractor.

There are a few special things to look at when you make your decision, including:

  • Reviews
  • Licenses
  • Equipment
  • Workers
  • And previous work and company history

Reviews

Thanks to the internet, reviews are one of the easiest things to find. Yelp, Google, Yellow Pages, Amazon, the Better Business Bureau…the list goes on. A search on your choice of directory or search engine should get you what you want.

What to look for in reviews?

Remember, look for the average review, not the outliers. There will always be someone out there with an ax to grind. Maybe some client had a bad day and decided to take it out on the company they hired. Maybe the customer is always difficult, and uses online reviews as an outlet. Don’t get too bothered by the worst reviews.

Look at the vast majority of reviews, and look at the best reviews, too. What did the people who got the best service have to say? If an overwhelming majority of the reviews are positive (for example, 80%, a 4-star average or higher), then the company probably has good customer service and does good work.

Also, be aware that some companies will fill a site with fake reviews to look better online. This is an instant red flag, and without a doubt, you should avoid companies that fake their feedback.

Finally, be sure to check the dates of the reviews. Companies change over the years; they can go from bad to quite good…or vice versa.

Licenses

Insurance

Paving companies—and construction companies at large—often save a few dollars by skimping on the required (or prudent) insurance. The low price may look great to the end consumer, but your risk is greater. If any accidents happen, then your business’s insurance will be what covers damages. This could lead to a vast increase in premiums down the road. There could also be legal fallout.

You should look for a paving company that has general liability and worker’s compensation insurance. That way, any accident should be covered, whether it results in material or personal damage. They should also have insurance on all commercial vehicles for paving equipment, and an insurance umbrella policy.

How do you find out if the company has insurance? Ask them.

Professional licenses

Professional licenses are a strong guarantee of professionalism. A proper paving company should have business and contractor licenses. This helps you ensure that the workers are trained professionals, and it shows that the business is legitimate.

When vetting a company, be sure to ask what licenses they have.

Equipment

Obviously, you want to hire a company with good equipment. If you can, visit the company headquarters. What does the equipment look like? Is it old or in bad condition? You can ask about the makes and models of their vehicles as well, including what year they were built.

Do a little research and check out the average lifespan of their paving equipment. Find out when the paving vehicles become unreliable. Check out the online reviews again too, look for a lot of complaints from customers about old or damaged equipment.

Workers

You would prefer to hire a company that uses reliable workers. There are a few ways to check out how good the workers at a company are:

  1. Check online reviews again. See what other customers had to say about the employees. Were the workers helpful? Did they do a good job? Did they go above and beyond?
  2. Look at websites for rating employers, too. Glassdoor and Indeed are two of the biggest, but there are many. Use your favorite search engine to find worker reviews. What have current and former employers said? Did they like the managers? Did they think they were fair and were dedicated to good work? How did they feel about their coworkers? What was the climate at work like? If you see huge number of complaints from employees about it being a bad work place, then you can guess that the workers there don’t have high morale.
  3. Finally, ask about the longevity of employees when you are vetting companies. If many workers have been at the company for a long time, it’s a good sign. It means the company invests in its workers to improve them. It also means that workers like the company, so they stay. A company that treats its workers well and has high retention rate is usually more professional and has good employee morale.

Previous work and company history

Commercial paving companies often take big jobs, like airports, stadiums, and large entertainment venues. If the company did work on things like airports or other government property, then their work is public record. You can even go to these public places and see their work for yourself.

Looking back at a company’s history, you can see how long they’ve been in business. Usually, the longer a company has been in business, the higher the standards, and the better work you can expect.