Traffic cones, also called pylons, witches’ hats, road cones, highway cones, safety cones, or construction cones, are usually cone-shaped markers that are placed on roads or footpaths to temporarily redirect traffic in a safe manner. They are often used to create separation or merge lanes during road construction projects or automobile accidents, although heavier, more permanent markers or signs are used if the diversion is to stay in place for a long period of time.
Traffic cones are typically used outdoors during road work or other situations requiring traffic redirection or advance warning of hazards or dangers, or the prevention of traffic. Traffic cones are also used to mark where children are playing or to block off an area. For night time use or low-light situations traffic cones are usually fitted with a retroreflective sleeve to increase visibility. On occasion, traffic cones may also be fitted with flashing lights for the same reason.
Typical traffic cones are fluorescent “safety” orange, as well as lime green. Traffic cones also commonly come with reflective striping around them, to increase visibility.
- 12 in (305 mm), 1.5 lb (0.68 kg) – for indoor/outdoor applications
- 18 in (457 mm), 3 lb (1.4 kg) – for outdoor applications such as free-way line painting
- 28 in (711 mm), 7 lb (3.2 kg), (also called Metro cones for their use in cities) – for Non-highway applications e.g. Local street,
- 28 in (711 mm), 10 lb (4.5 kg) – for free-way/high-way applications (With reflective stripes)
- 36 in (914 mm), 10 lb (4.5 kg) – for free-way/high-way applications (With reflective stripes)
Cones are easy to move or remove. Where sturdier (and larger) markers are needed, construction sites use traffic barrels (plastic orange barrels with reflective stripes, normally about the same size as a 55 US gallons (46 imp gal; 208 L) drum). When a lane closure must also be a physical barrier against cars accidentally crossing it, a Jersey barrier is preferred. See also Fitch Barrier.
In many countries such as Australia or American states such as California, traffic barrels are rarely seen. Devices called bollards are used instead of cones where larger and sturdier warning or delineation devices are needed. Typically, bollards are 1,150 mm (45 in) high fluorescent orange posts with reflective sleeve and heavyweight rubber bases. Larger devices such as barrier boards may be used instead of cones where larger areas need to be excluded or for longer periods. In Canada they are often referred to as pylons.
Indoor and non-traffic use
Cones are used to lay out courses for autocross competitions.
Cones are also frequently used in indoor public spaces to mark off areas which are closed to pedestrians, such as a restroom being out of order, or to denote a dangerous condition, such as a slippery floor. They can be used on school playgrounds to limit areas of a playing field, and on ice rinks to define class, private party, or private lesson areas. Some of the cones used for this purpose are miniature, as small as 5 cm (2.0 in) tall, and some are disposable full-size cones made of biodegradable paper.
Being distinctive, easily portable and usually left unguarded, traffic cones are often stolen. Students are frequently blamed, to the extent that the British National Union of Studentshas attempted to play down this “outdated stereotype”
The term “road cone” is also commonly used in the construction industry as a lighthearted insult. It is used to describe an individual who spends most of the day just standing still, making no attempt to get involved in the work they should be doing.