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Interesting History of Road Markings

History of road markings and their meanings in Kenya

Road markings

The white and yellow lines separating traffic on Kenyan roads seem pretty obvious, but have you ever asked yourself why where they might have come from or who originated the idea?

Well, the history of road markings can be traced back to the Roman empire. Before them, the only mark on the roads was a vertical stone on the road at specific points to mark the distance from Rome.

However, in 1300 AD, there was a big gathering in Rome, that sawa over 2000 people waking on the same road. The then pope; Boniface the 8th orders painting of a line in the middle of the road.

This was to separate human traffic from cart and horse traffic. In Europe and the United States, the onset of motor vehicle manufucture and use necessitated the presence of some order. There were different shapes, types and sizes of vehicles on the road.

This brought about issues such as accident as there was no proper order. The road had to be organized to prevent many of these problems. The following period saw a quest for the proper marking of the roads to prevent such issues.

For example, the chairman of the Wayne county board of roads in Michigan, Mr. Edward Hines conceptualized the idea of marking the road with a white line in the center to separate traffic.

It is said that he got this idea from a truck he was driving behind which was dropping milk in a straight line on the road, making it look like a white line at the center of the road.

In California, there was a further press for road demarcation when Dr. June Mccarol had an incident that made her push for the agenda. She was driving in Indo Boulevard in California when she made a sharp bend just to meet head on with a lorry. Apparently, it had occupied the whole road, leaving McCarol no space to drive in.

She had to swerve right to escape a terrible accident. This terrified her and made her push for the idea of marking the roads in California. She might have been met with a few obstacles in championing this agenda but eventually, it was taken in.

For her undying spirit of fighting for safety on the roads, the road she had painted was named the Doctor June McCarol memorial freeway.

The two are the originators of road markings in the United States of America.

Road markings in the united kingdom

road markings in the early 20th century

In the united Kingdom, 1918 was the year when, roads started to be painted. At that time, there was only a white mark at the center of the road to indicate how much room for driving each driver had.

This further elevated to the dashes line marking and other white markings that showed drivers when to stop.

Later, in the 50s, the yellow lines were adapted on all British roads. This marked another essential milestone in the development if more road safety signs and rules.

Kenya, being a British colony, adapted the British system of road markings and some if their road safety measures. The first road in Kenya was tarmacked in 1922 and since then there has been development of the road safety systems as times change

Major road markings and their meanings in Kenya

road markings and their meanings in kenya

Since the early development stages of road transport in Kenya, there has been an incredible improvement in the safety of road use, thanks to the traffic regulations and the use of road signs on the roads.

We have several categories of road signs in Kenya, which are outlined below;

  • Regulatory signs
  • kerb and carriageway signs
  • warning signs
  • Traffic light signals

Each of the four clusters above has an array of signs under it, marking specific rules and regulations for driving on Kenyan roads. Not following the rules behind the road marks and signs could lead to penalty for disobeying the traffic rules conduct. The offenses could lead to arrest and being charged in a court of law. Find out more about traffic offenses and their penalties here.

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