Back to Blog

How the Divided Road Sign Reduces Accidents

August 26, 2019

Divided roads are often separated by some type of barrier in between them, such as concrete or a strip of grass. Most of the signs for these roads have yellow backgrounds with black up and down arrows, although they can also have orange or white backgrounds with black imagery.

Separating Two Lane Traffic

One of the most common reasons for dividing lanes in which traffic moves in each direction is to create safer conditions. Busy streets with a history of head on collisions need dividers to reduce accidents and fatalities. Head on collisions are often caused by drunk drivers at night even in well lit places with high visibility.

Center strips might only be for a short distance to get past a dangerous area, such as where deer might cross or where the road is separated by natural barriers, such as mountains or streams. Another reason might involve installing temporary division signs while road construction work is conducted in between lanes. In walkable cities, center strips give pedestrians a safety zone in the middle of crossing a wide busy boulevard.

In Downtown areas, paved center strips might be used for buses, trains or a light rail. Sometimes these strips are placed in urban shopping areas for aesthetic value, showcasing elegant landscaping.

Many freeways with median strips don’t use division signs simply because it’s obvious that opposing traffic is separated for miles. Not all divided roads need signs, especially if the island is wide and contains trees and bushes. The main purpose of the sign is to let drivers know to be careful when the barrier disappears.

Variations of the Divided Road Sign

Barriers on highways traditionally began with a sign saying “Divided Road” and ended with a sign that read “Divided Road End.” These old signs are still in use, but many places have retired them in favor of just using symbols. It may also just say “Divided Highway” without further explanation. The arrows usually curve around a barrier at the top or bottom of the sign. The most basic version of this diamond-shaped sign is simply up and down arrows, which is often placed where two-way traffic begins after one-way traffic.

The common theme of all road signs that warn about changes is that the drivers must view the sign from the bottom to the top to understand it clearly. In other words, if the median appears at the top of the sign, it means you are driving toward the beginning of the barrier. If it appears at the bottom, it means you are moving past the median, toward a return to two-way traffic with no center strip.

When the divider is placed at the bottom of the sign, it’s a warning to keep to the right and watch for oncoming traffic. These signs are not used to indicate upcoming intersections or junctions. They also do not convey how many lanes are in each traffic direction. Accompanying a divided road sign is usually a solid yellow line to the left of the driver.

Medians Without Barriers

In California, islands painted on pavement are sometimes used between two sets of double yellow lines. These type of medians help cut costs by avoiding landscaping. A 1993 Federal Highway Administration study found that where medians lack barriers, the width of the medians needs to be at least 30 feet to be safe.


A divided road sign can help reduce head-on collisions and prepare drivers to pay attention to the road ahead. Contact Zumar at our Arizona, California or Washington location to learn more about the safety benefits and comfort these signs bring drivers.

Product Added

Go to Quote Request Form

Continue Product Search