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Keeping Traffic Orderly With One Way Signs

April 6, 2020

Most people think of one way signs as having a single purpose: to guide traffic in one direction. That’s the main reason they are used, but there many more, as they ultimately help keep roads safe and reduce the risk of head-on collisions for the following scenarios:

Narrow Roads

When roads are too narrow to have proper striping or no signage exists to direct traffic, drivers are on their own. These roads are common in rural areas and small towns due to a lack of funding or demand, therefore cars must drive and pass carefully.

In cities with sufficient funding where areas are busier, it’s necessary to post one way signs so that the city doesn’t get blamed for allowing dangerous conditions. Narrow roads without dividing lines or signs can be deadly, especially at night. A one way sign eliminates ambiguity.

Preventing Dangerous Turns

Sometimes a one way sign is placed on streets to prevent vehicles from cutting through quiet residential areas. Drivers may wonder why they turn onto a wide boulevard without a chance to turn around for several blocks. This directs drivers toward commerical shopping areas and effectively prevents sharp turns across oncoming traffic.

Divided Highways

Another common place for one way signs is on divided highways to ensure drivers know they’re moving in the correct direction. The dividers on these highways may only be for certain distances before the lanes are split with a broken yellow line. Some bidrectional highways split apart for awhile, which can be confusing to visitors, showing the necessity of these signs.

Historic Scenery

Places of historic interest sometimes exist on roads in which traffic moves in one direction. This use of the one way sign helps direct tourists to specific exits and parking lots. Routing traffic in one direction gives local traffic officials more control and makes it easier for tourists to find their destinations.

Limiting Traffic Congestion

Another reason for the one way sign is to limit traffic congestion. In some areas, there might not be room to widen streets or the community has opposed the idea, as it attracts busier traffic. While keeping the street narrow might be the general sentiment, placing one way signs should be considered on any road where traffic is only allowed to move in one direction.

Expecting drivers to practice common traffic etiquette as a way of saving money on signs is not a safe solution, in either congested or quiet areas. Without proper signage, drivers are forced to dangerously assume what the rules of the road are. Keeping drivers informed about rules, directions, and destinations with appropriate signage is crucial to safer streets.


There are various reasons to post one way signs on urban and rural streets. Like the stop sign, one way arrows are instantly recognized and understood, as they often communicate potential dangers. Contact Zumar at our Arizona, California or Washington location to learn more about traffic signs you may need.

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