Safety cones are one of the world's most utilised safety tools. Although they may annoyingly scream caution on our roads, find out how they came about and why they are so important.
During never-ending roadworks, traffic obstructions and overall urban development, it’s hard to imagine a world without safety cones (also known as witches’ hats or traffic cones).
So how did they first come about?
Prior to the first safety cone 77 years ago, safety markers were made of heavy, cumbersome concrete and dense wood and were highly unforgiving to collisions with vehicles. Yes that’s right, safety markers used to cause more damage to your car then you did to them!
Thankfully, the father of the traffic cone, Charles D. Scanlon patented the first ‘Safety Marker’, made by sewing together discarded tyre skin. However, due to an unsteady supply of discarded tyres, production was abandoned.
Six years later, sheets of rubber were moulded through heat under high pressure, to develop the contemporary safety cone designs we use today.
Today, our modern and innovative traffic cones are extremely light yet remarkably stable and can be found in an array of sizes, styles, colours and reflective features. They are usually made of rubber, thermoplastics or recycled PVC and can be easily stored and transported. More importantly, this new style of cone would cause minimal damage to your vehicle if you ‘accidently’ ran over one.
Safety cones are such one of the most ubiquitous warning tools around, not only blocking off hazardous potholes, managing traffic conditions, crowd control, or marking off restricted areas, but also can be used by people and businesses big and small. A few examples making up the 140 million safety cones used worldwide are warehouse markers, assisting clean ups, carpark management, sporting events, restaurants and even festivals.
So although our brightly coloured cone friends have come from a history of concrete collisions, they are extremely useful and can play a very important role in public safety that shouldn’t be underestimated.