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Controlling Traffic with Delineators

July 17, 2019

Traffic delineators are portable markers shaped like vertical tubes designed to guide motorists. These traffic markers are typically bright colors such as yellow or orange so that they can be seen by approaching traffic. Here are important points to know about these markers and how they work well with signs to maintain orderly traffic.

Reasons for Using Delineators

  • shut down a traffic lane
  • surround danger areas
  • keep traffic separate from road crews
  • guide for drivers
  • show where a road intersects with a bridge
  • mark road edges in the snow

How a Delineator Helps

When a driver sees a traffic delineator, he or she instantly understands something has changed that requires their attention for safe driving. Drivers know they must be aware of detours and which lanes to avoid on a highway. Colored markers are often used around construction areas to protect workers by redirecting traffic away from the construction work zone. These markers are mainly used to attract attention and to create safety awareness.

A delineator is required to display a reflective strip that’s at least three inches wide and must be compliant with MUTCD standards. The color of the delineator must also match the color of the stripe line where it is placed. Each state and local area has its own laws regarding these markers. They are commonly used on roads where markings are flexible due to special events in which traffic direction may change. The bright colors and reflectivity of delineators make them particularly helpful at night for visibly dividing roads or marking edges. By marking interchange ramps, where many accidents occur, they make highways safer.

Some thinner white delineators are designed to redirect pedestrians while the thicker orange ones are more commonly used to be seen by motorists. The standard size for these units is 36 inches in height, making them visible to drivers from down the street moving at a moderate speed. Organizations that need to invest in a large quantity of delineators can save money by choosing the shorter 18 inch versions.

Durability of Delineators

Traffic markers are commonly made of polyurethane and polyethylene, two very tough and long lasting materials. Both forms of flexible plastic are resistant to tearing and puncture. The delineator can withstand exposure to environmental elements, including freezing temperatures. UV-protected polymer adds even more longevity to these products. Most modern traffic markers, which return upward upon impact, are designed to withstand at least 50 impacts.


Like traffic signs, portable traffic markers help direct motorists in certain situations, such as keeping traffic a sufficient distance from construction workers. Contact Zumar at our Arizona, California or Washington location to learn more about delineators, road markings and traffic signs.

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