What is the history of traffic signs?

California Traffic Signs

Getting a glimpse into the history of the California traffic signs and traffic signs in general will help you appreciate the creation of these signs. When you are out driving in your vehicle, the chances that you notice traffic signs are slim to none, especially if it is a route you have driven many time before. However, if you are in a new place, you will most likely be checking every sign to get to your destination. You will probably want to know where your exit is located, which lane you should be in, and what the speed limit is in that area. California traffic signs are essential to give you directions as you drive. They can help you have a safe and enjoyable driving experience. The importance of traffic signs can be seen by how long they have been in use.

If traffic signs are so important, then where can you find the first sightings of traffic signs in the world. However, before diving into the history of traffic signs it is important to know why traffic signs are essential. Traffic signs give you important directions while you operate your vehicle. These signs were created to assist a driver to make a quick, intelligent decisions. The United States Department of Transportation has said, “Over 164,000 miles of highways in the National Highway System form the backbone of our 4-million-mile public road network.” Without the proper traffic signs, it could be extremely difficult to navigate the millions of miles of road within the United States.

Imagine a world without these signs. For example, look at an interstate without California traffic signs. Chaos would definitely follow. There could potentially be more wrecks due to a lack of order on the interstate. Overall, it would be a nightmare to try and navigate any road without a few signs to give assistance.

Where Can Traffic Signs in California Find Their Origin

When you look at the history of traffic signs, you can go all the way back to the Roman Empire. As the Roman Empire was taking over the world, they began to build highways that led to Rome. The History of Street Signs explained, “At the height of the Roman Empire, the Caesars ordered the construction of 4,400-pound stone markers called milestones. These were numbered and placed at specific intervals along the 62,000 miles of Roman roads.” This was the beginning of signs directing individuals.

Next, if you look to Europe, you will find that they started to put signs on their roads directing you to certain cities. In addition to these signs, the number of miles to the city would also be posted on the signs. Now looking to America, most of the country was not concerned with traffic signs. This was especially true during the horse and carriage time period in the United States. Only after the introduction of the car, were traffic signs beginning to be erected. The stop sign was the first traffic sign to be used. This would be the start of one of the best uniform systems the country would see. California traffic signs and other traffic signs used across the country would be the same so that all people would understand every sign that they would see.

Are California traffic signs different than others in the country?

California Traffic Signs

You could imagine the confusion that would come from each state having their own approach to traffic signs. Having to know the shape, symbol, and color of each state’s signs would be extremely confusing. Esurance has discussed some of the beginnings of the nation’s standardized traffic sign system. In the early 1900’s there were a few states that came together to rid their streets of confusion and create a uniform system. These states created a system that would include certain shapes for certain meaning. This system involved the following:

  • Round — Railroad crossing
  • Octagon — Stop sign
  • Diamond — Curve ahead
  • Square — Caution or attention
  • Rectangle — Mileage and speed limit signs

This would eventually change the transportation landscape. Instead of confusion about what the sign was trying to present, there would be understanding based on the shape of the sign. If you look at the list of shapes that was created in the early 1900’s, you can see that these shapes have stayed the same for about 100 years. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that the government decided that they needed to take an interest in transportation and create the uniform system that we see today.

California traffic signs are an example of how far the transportation system has come in the last 100 years. The system is still understood by the shape of the California traffic signs. However, in addition to the shape of the sign, the signs now are also explained by their color and symbols. There are now three things that tell you as the vehicle operator what lies ahead on the road. Now when you drive from state to state you will be able to notice that all the stop signs are octagon and red with white writing. So whether you are in a large city or a town with three people, the signs will be the same.

To explain how easy California traffic signs are to understand, let’s discuss what each color of sign means. Temporary traffic control signs will be orange. You have more than likely seen these signs around road construction because they often cause frustration. Regulatory signs are red. These will be stop and yield signs. Yellow signs will be warning signs, such as a sign warning that a stop sign is ahead. ADA signs are always blue and indicate assistance for those who have handicaps. Finally, green signs will tell directions and have street names.

What are some of the design principles for California traffic signs?

California Traffic Signs

The designs are uniform from state to state. Capitol Barricade uses a precise process for cutting out the signs with a cnc machine. These machines are programmed to have the same exact cut every single time. Consistency is important when creating signs for the transportation department. A CNC machine allows for this consistency. The materials that can be cut can vary from aluminum to wood.

Once these signs are cut, the adhesive color and symbol will be attached. The majority of the adhesive material will be reflective. This is another addition to add safety to the street and highways. These reflective signs are the norm for the layperson driving back and forth from work, but it should be understood that a lot of effort goes into creating these reflective signs. Not only does the material have to work for its intended purpose but the sign has to be able to reflect the headlights back to the driver. These are all things that are taken for granted while driving on the road.

It is important that you understand the meaning of the road signs that you see. Often you will not have to try to learn these signs, if you are out on the road, you will see these signs everyday. The more you drive your vehicle the more you will become familiar with this standardized traffic sign system. If you have questions or need help, contact us.