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How Interstate Signs Help Direct Traffic

January 4, 2018

The Interstate Highway System is funded by the Federal Government and has been around since the fifties. These freeways are maintained by the states. For people who want to see America, all the cities and towns are connected through national and state transportation planning. To help you get from any region to another, interstate signs lead the way.

Highway Sign Uniformity

Signs you see on the highway that identify what route you’re on must conform to federal standards. This policy makes it easy for new visitors to a state to feel a sense of familiarity. It may be a place they’ve never gone before, but the style of the sign is something they’ve seen wherever they travel. The U.S. highway system covers over 40,000 miles of road, all of which must follow federal standards.

The route numbering system of interstate highways was established by planners from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). They also were responsible for setting uniform geometric and construction standards for American freeways as adopted by the Federal Highway Administration.

Specifications for Interstate Signs

  • symbol of route marker is red, white, and blue
  • shaped like a shield
  • includes the word “Interstate”
  • state name
  • route number

Other Freeway Signs

The uniform shield symbol is instantly recognizable among all interstate drivers. Symbols in general are becoming more widely adopted for road signs because they are easy to see and understand. The difference between interstate and city street signage is that you won’t see the color red much on freeway signs, other than on route markers, while stop signs are everywhere in cities and towns. You will, however, see yellow diamond-shaped warning signs on both streets and interstate highways.

You can learn all the standards and illustrations of road and highway signs from a book available at the FHWA website called Standard Highway Signs. It also explains standards for color, lettering and highway markings.

A Destination Distance sign tells drivers how far away they are from certain cities. Knowing how many miles away the next gas station is can be very important on a low tank of gas. Usually there are plenty of turnoffs for gas, food and lodging between cities, which means a large quantity of signs are needed for any given highway.

Additional signs that can help drivers measure distances are Roadway Identification and Mile Marker signs. These signs start at mile one and continue increasing to a certain point. Junction signs let you know that another highway turnoff is up ahead.

Out-of-State Visitors

When you visit another state it’s always best to pay attention to all the relevant signs you pass. Some can warn of closures ahead. Sometimes visitors get confused by winding roads and lose track of where they are and end up making the wrong turn onto another highway. But as long as you pay attention to the interstate signs you can at least know which highway you’re on.

Separate from interstate signs are the west or east signs for highways ending in even numbers and north or south signs for highways ending in odd numbers. Interstate 5, for example, runs north and south on the west coast.

Interstate signs are very helpful in case drivers don’t have a map or mobile phone with them. It is essential for drivers to pay attention to these signs if they don’t have GPS installed. All signs need to be visible at all times of the day, especially at night. If they are not, they need to be replaced right away.

For more information on keeping interstate signs updated and maintained, contact Zumar for a free consultation.

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