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Delineator Traffic Posts: Standards for Design and Placement

Delineator traffic posts serve an invaluable role in safeguarding public safety.  Despite this fact, there remains as yet no universally accepted standard for their design, especially in regards to their shape, size, and color.  The MUTCD is also vague in its requirements for these products.  This being the case, it is up to local and state officials to ensure that their delineator traffic posts are used most effectively.  Below is a list of features these products should have:

·         A retroreflective element – the most common devices used for this purpose are glass-bead-impregnated sheeting or a cube-corner prismatic insert.  Bands of retroreflective sheeting are wrapped around delineator posts or placed on flat surfaces directed toward traffic.

·         A sturdy base – sturdiness need not imply a lack of flexibility.  In fact, flexible posts offer many advantages.  They are lighter and easier to install.  They cost less than products made of harder, heavier substances.  Perhaps most important, they’re designed to bend when struck by vehicles instead of breaking.  Flexible posts can even be permanently mounted in a location by using a material such as reinforced concrete to anchor them to the ground.  Or they can be inserted into ready-made “keyhole” slots and relocated as necessary.  This latter approach offers both greater affordability and ease-of-use while also simplifying the job of replacing damaged or worn signs.

·         A backdrop – while not strictly required, backdrops improve the visibility of delineator traffic posts by helping to reflect oncoming light.  They should be used whenever budgets permit.


Placement of Delineator Traffic Posts

Traffic posts are normally placed anywhere from 5 to 500 feet apart in continuous lines, depending on their application.  They should never be more than 8 feet outside the edge of the usable road shoulder.  They are also useful in marking the outside edges of curves with a maximum radius of 1000 feet.  This includes features such as divided highway medians or curved freeway ramps.



Delineator traffic posts and flexible signs serve important roles in safeguarding the public.  By exercising good judgment in their design and placement, officials can ensure that these products continue to do their jobs effectively.