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Communicating With Motorists Through Road Signals

April 10, 2020

Electronic road signals bring order to busy streets, especially on dark winter nights. Not only do they create smoother traffic flow, they communicate instantly with motorists and pedestrians on how to proceed. Here’s a look at the various types of traffic MUTCD compliant signals that help keep streets safe.

Different Types of Road Signals

  • Traffic Control
  • Pedestrian
  • Emergency Vehicle
  • One-lane and Two-lane
  • Freeway Entrance Ramps
  • Movable Bridges
  • Flashing Beacons

Pedestrian Signals

Accessible pedestrian signals at crosswalks communicate with both vehicle and foot traffic. Sometimes drivers forget they’re supposed to look both ways before making a right hand turn at an intersection, which can be dangerous for pedestrians who don’t look both ways before entering a crosswalk. Traffic signals serve as an important reminder for both parties.

Modern crosswalk signals have a countdown of up to 30 seconds for people to walk to the other side, taking into account handicapped individuals who need extra time. TraffiCalm makes enhanced systems with responsive LED lights with Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB) that help alert drivers, providing greater visibility in school zones.

Standard Traffic Signals

The list is long for different types of highway or street signals, which are needed to communicate with vehicles moving at fast speeds on busy streets with intersections. Traditional or newer electronic systems both use controller units that set the selection and timing of the displays. These controllers are components of larger controller assemblies that are mounted in a cabinet that traffic officials can access for operation options.

Many traditional traffic controller units include options for flashers, which are devices that flash on and off in a repetitive manner. The complete sequence of a signal indication is known as cycle length. Controller assemblies also contain detectors to sense approaching vehicles or pedestrians. These devices are usually placed in locations where engineering studies have been conducted on traffic patterns to warrant the expense. They are particularly needed in areas of predictable heavy traffic or where collisions have occurred.

A beacon, as defined by the Federal Highway Administration, is a traffic signal with one of more signal sections operating in a flashing mode. Beacons often give drivers advance warnings and are used for multiple reasons, such as for displaying the message “prepare to stop when flashing.” Another common use of beacons is supplementing a speed limit sign to get drivers to double-check and adjust their speeds. They may also be used on a traditional STOP, DO NOT ENTER or WRONG WAY sign.

Modern Electronic Road Signals

TraffiCalm is a leading manufacturer of electronic traffic control systems that use sophisticated digital features. These systems, such as the Sign Alert brand, provide options for solar or AC power combined with internet and radar to detect traffic speeds and alert drivers with special LED messages. They help cut costs for cities and organizations as well as save lives.

The company makes various systems for different environments, such as for curve warnings, icy surfaces, pedestrian crossings, residential and HOA neighborhoods, and wrong way mitigation. TraffiCalm also designs innovative road signals for school zones, law enforcement and emergency vehicle warnings.


Road signals make streets safer by sending messages through LED displays to drivers and pedestrians. Contact Zumar at our Arizona, California or Washington location to learn more about the diverse features of road signals and other traffic safety devices.

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