From time to time, engineering companies, road construction firms, municipalities, and local authorities tasked with road maintenance must buy new traffic cones. Although such pylons have been in use for decades, little to no thought is given to the origin and history of traffic cones. A brief historical overlook provides a good start in understanding the importance of traffic cones and related road-safety products in reducing accidents on the South African roads.

Right at the inception of highway construction, the road engineers worked with gas lanterns to warn motorists of the road works ahead. Later concrete and wooden pylon systems were used for the same purpose. However, the equipment was heavy and rather unforgiving. A vehicle that collided with one of these pylons most certainly experienced some damage. Instead of improving road safety, the traffic cones of the time posed additional risks.

An alternative was first sought for the lantern options and then for the concrete pylons. Although road- maintenance officials at the time may not have thought of plastic pylons when tasked to buy new traffic cones, they most certainly would have welcomed the modern lightweight and brightly coloured cones. Fortunately, technological advances made it possible to introduce the thermoplastic pylons in use today. These pylons have the following characteristics:

  • brightly coloured;
  • made from durable plastic;
  • different sizes;
  • hollow inside;
  • shaped like an inverted ice-cream cone; and
  • sturdy base.

Important Characteristics of Traffic Cones

  • Brightly coloured: Unlike the old days of having to use lanterns to warn motorists of the obstacles in poor weather conditions, the new pylons are brightly coloured for maximum visibility in poor light conditions. Indeed, reflective strips can be added to increase the visibility of the pylons at night. The most popular colours are day-light glow orange, yellow and red. However, many other colours are available.
  • Durable plastic: Since they are made from a polymer, the plastic cones have superb UV-resistance. This ensures durability in the harsh South African weather conditions. With the pylons keeping their colours despite sunlight exposure, there is no need to buy new traffic cones every few months.
  • Different sizes: The pylons are available in various sizes, making them suitable for a wide range of applications. The monster size is huge, specifically to ensure visibility in places where large trucks operate such as at open-pit mines and dam-construction projects. With smaller than the standard sizes also available, the pylons can be used for indoor and sports applications as well.
  • Hollow inside: The hollow inside ensures that the cones can be stacked for transportation and storage. With the pylons not taking up a lot of space, cost-savings are achieved in terms of transportation and storage. The hollow feature also makes the pylons exceptionally light and thus easy to deploy.
  • Shaped like an inverted cone: The typical cone appearance is the reason these pylons can be quickly placed. The worker simply grabs the top section to place or pick the cone up. The inverted cone shape is also the reason the pylons can be effectively stacked.
  • Sturdy base: The sturdy base provides the necessary stability to prevent easy blow-over in windy conditions. Some types can be affixed to the surface while others can be temporarily affixed with the placement of stones or bags onto the base areas.

Where Are Pylons Used?

These pylons are used for a wide range of applications, making it a good idea to buy new ones for uses not previously considered.

  • Vehicle accident scenes: Emergency-service providers deploy the pylons at accident scenes to redirect vehicles around the vehicles involved in the accidents. The pylons indicate where the motorists cannot drive.
  • Road works: The pylons are most used at road works to warn motorists of the hazards, to redirect motorists around the hazards, and to channel two lanes into a single one.
  • Sport and training: The pylons are often used as temporary goal markers for sports such as hockey and soccer. The cones are used to create obstacle courses and to show the flagpole places on the fields. Smaller types are used for sports field applications.
  • Indoors as warnings: The pylons are used indoors in shopping centres or retail stores to indicate areas where there are spills or wet floors. Shop owners can also buy new cones to use for marking the appropriate distances that shoppers must stay from each other during the lockdown period.
  • Events: To create temporary ticket lines or to channel eventgoers into areas, event organisers often also place the cones. Though the cones cannot stop anyone, the pylons are highly visible and widely recognised as devices for warning and directing around hazards.
  • Driving schools: The pylons are used as markers to indicate parking spaces. The easy deployment and low cost involved with the ownership of the pylons are reasons why many driving schools opt to buy new ones rather than having to pay large amounts for expensive parking space equipment.
  • Construction sites: Workplace accidents cause thousands of deaths every year. Construction sites are high-risk work areas. Having pylons to place around hazards, helps people to see which areas to avoid. As such, the cones also play an important role at construction sites.

Who Buys New Traffic Cones and Where Can You Find Them?

The traffic pylons may originally have been for road works applications, but with the versatility of the cones, the easy to deploy characteristics, affordability and visibility, these pylons are now used in many instances as explained above. Emergency-service providers buy new traffic cones to replace ones lost or forgotten at accident scenes. Municipalities also buy new ones to replace stolen or worn ones. The next important question is where to buy new traffic cones. Although some of the DIY hardware retailers have pylons in stock, if you want to buy in bulk, the best is to buy from Armco Superlite. We’re a leading firm in the supply of road-safety products in South Africa.

Other products available include:

  • Speed bumps
  • Delineators
  • Truck-mounted attenuator
  • W-beam guardrails
  • End terminals
  • Wire-rope barriers

The products available meet strict international and local standards for quality and safety. Instead of buying new traffic cones from an overseas supplier, pay less by buying locally. With imports, there is the issue of import duties to be paid. In addition, you have to deal with the dollar and rand exchange values. Buying locally also helps to support local industries and thus boost the economy. It also ensures that the company understands your application requirements. Get in touch with the Armco Superlite office for quotes and ordering information.