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Where to Place Caution Sides on the Road

March 28, 2019

Drivers appreciate yellow caution signs that help them avoid disaster. The presence of any caution, warning, or danger sign can quickly draw a motorist’s attention, since safety is a top of mind issue. Safety signs are crucial on narrow winding mountan roads in the wintertime. Here are ideas for the most appropriate places for roadway caution signs.

Causes of Slippery Roads

Slippery road conditions can occur for various reasons, either from natural or chemical disasters. Rockslides, heavy rain, and oil spills can cause vehicles to hydroplane and spin out of control. In California, the scenic Pacific Coast Highway 1 was closed in May 2017 due to a large landslide south of Big Sur. The replacement road cost the state $54 million and was reopened in July 2018. That’s a more extreme example of how badly a road can be damaged by sliding rocks and mud. Signs in these locations create an awareness level of the region’s history with weather and road conditions.

Local emergencies must be declared for severe mudslides, as in the Sausalito mudslide of February 2019. In this case a strong storm caused homes on a hillside to slide, leading to an enforced evacuation. The area had been soaked with five inches of rain over a 24 hour period. This problem is a reminder that it can occur anywhere when the ground becomes saturated with heavy rain.

Snowfall can lead to icy roads and dangerous slippery conditions, especially in northern states like Washington. Flooding occurs across many cities every winter, which can make roads extremely dangerous. People driving in two feet of water run the risk of being trapped, as local officials may not be able to respond fast enough to close flooded roads.

Sign Placement Considerations

It’s vital to use appropriate signs to remind drivers of possible road conditions in case they are tourists unfamiliar with the area. Highways that wind around mountainsides need warning signs about falling rocks, just as roads through forests need warning signs about falling tree branches. Any place where the road can be blocked with natural debris can cause drivers to swerve. Locations where cautionary road signs are essential include:

  • roads near waterways and hillsides
  • unpaved routes in rural areas
  • coastal, mountain and forest highways
  • areas where a big oil spill has occured
  • dangerous corners in regions with heavy rain or snow

One of the most important considerations for sign placement is visibility day or night. Even if the sign is large and bright yellow with reflective coating, it still needs to be posted where it can be seen from a distance and is not obscured by trees. Caution, warning, and danger signs must be placed along roads where severe weather and potential road damage is predictable.

Caution signs can also be used in businesses to protect employees and visitors from falling. These yellow signs often say “Caution: Floor Slippery When Wet.” They help prevent accidents in public places where a floor has just been mopped. But since spills can happen anywhere, these signs have become fairly common beyond commercial establishments.


Where you place a sign is just as important as the sign message. Drivers need to see a caution sign with advance warning so that they can respond quickly if necessary. Contact our Zumar locations in Arizona, California and Washington if you have any questions about sign making and sign placement. We understand best traffic practices and local regulations and can help you plan accordingly.

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