Road Safety Equipment

Common Pieces of Road Safety Equipment

Those who work on a road crew are not the only people who should know the basic types of road safety equipment. As drivers, most of us dread seeing the “road work ahead” sign at the side of the road. This tends to annoy most drivers, but the truth is that a lot of work goes into maintaining the roads, and the crews that do this work use many different types of equipment to protect themselves and drivers while maintenance is under way. Recognizing the road safety equipment can drastically reduce a driver’s chances of having an accident while passing through a road work zone.

Cones and Drums

Cones and drums are some of the most familiar road safety equipment to most drivers. The shape of road cones may vary depending on what type of work is being done and how large the area is. Minor work limited to a small area may use smaller, more traditional style cones. Large-scale road work is more likely to require tall, narrow cones or even drums. Drums, often called “barrels” are a great deal heavier than cones and can catch a driver’s attention much easier than a small cone on the side of the road. One is more likely to see road drums on highways and other roads that are well-traveled. They are also common on roads that have a higher speed limit. When a cone gets knocked over by a car, it typically just rolls right under the tire. A drum, on the other hand, is more likely to grab the attention of a driver who is not paying attention to the road!

Barricades and Panels

Barricades and panels are also large and, much like road drums, are designed to grab the attention of the driver. A-frame barricades are quite common. They consist of two white “legs” in the shape of an A. The top point of each leg is used to support a white and orange striped panel. These are often used around areas where pedestrians frequently walk, such as near street lights and sidewalks. Another type of barricade is a heavy duty barrier. These are made of a very durable plastic and can be pieced together on-side. They come in a variety of shapes based on the type of area that they will be blocking off. Heavy duty barriers are often used to block off areas of the road that are being paved, but they also may be used to impose a detour.



There are a variety of signs used by road crews, and although the wording may differ slightly from place to place, the general idea remains the same. The most commonly seen road safety sign is the “road work ahead” sign. This sign is usually diamond-shaped and reflective-orange with black wording. This may be mounted onto a metal post or it may be mounted to a portable tripod. Some versions are made of metal while others are made of a durable cloth material. An alternative version of this sign is an electronic sign that sits on a wheeled post.  Other common signs feature a generic picture of a person digging or holding a flag. “Men working” and “prepare to stop” signs, similar in design to the “road work ahead” sign, are also very common safety signs.

Warning Lights and Clothing

When the road work extends to night time or takes place in inclement weather, the area may be equipped with orange lights. These lights may be affixed to signs or barriers and should be taken as a command to slow down and keep an eye out for workers. In addition to signs, cones and barricades, safety clothing is also an essential piece of road safety equipment. Coats, vests, shirts, and hats in eye-catching neon green or orange are often work by road crew members. These often contain grey reflective strips around the waist, down the front and back, as well as around the arms. This clothing helps drivers to catch sight of the workers and to slow down, if necessary.