The term "road furniture" encompasses all roadside objects used for safety and control of traffic in addition to those for assisting the driver. Road furniture items provide drivers with the necessary warnings, rules, distance and directional information in order to travel roads and thoroughfares safely. Certain types of road furniture include nonessential road elements, such as telephone booths, mailboxes, tourist information signs and trash receptacles. Six types of road furniture are essential to the welfare of drivers.
Road signs are the most important type of road furniture. They guide and help control traffic. Directional signs advise the driver of distances and directions to towns and cities. Informational signs indicate the location of hospitals, gas stations, restaurants and rest areas. Regulatory signs, such as speed limit signs, indicate laws that drivers must obey. Caution or warning signs indicate hazardous or unusual road conditions like sharp curves, low shoulders or icy roads.
Another familiar type of road furniture, known as guideposts, indicate upcoming hazards, curves and changes in direction of the roadway. Guideposts consist of short poles installed in sequence along the road shoulder. They sometimes feature colored reflectors marking sudden turns or steep hills that are not visible to the driver until the last moment. These posts are also used to estimate safe passing or turning distances.
Safety barriers physically stop or prevent out-of-control vehicles from leaving the roadway. The simplest are guardrails made of metal or wire rope. Heavy vehicle barricades withstand higher intensity impacts and greater weight loads. Crash cushions protect passengers from collisions into highway obstacles such as concrete construction barriers and bridge piers.
Light and Utility Poles
Light poles feature a raised light source designed to illuminate roads and walkways at night. Photosensitive cells automatically trigger the lights to turn on and off at dusk and dawn or during inclement weather. Single rows of utility poles support electrical power lines and telecommunications cables safely above streets, roads and highways.
Boundary fencing consists of barriers or dividers constructed along highways delineating property lines between the road right-of-way and adjacent private land. This type of road furniture can be constructed from a number of materials such as wood, steel or concrete posts connected with chain link, plain or barbed wires.
Raised Road Markers
Raised road markers typically reflect vehicle headlights, designating a path for drivers during low light conditions. Non-reflective road markers enhance and sometimes replace painted highway lines. Certain road markers alert drivers of errant lane changes with loud noise and vibration when in contact with vehicle tires. Temporary raised road markers delineate traffic lanes during construction or resurfacing projects.