What’s the Lifespan of Road Signs and What Happens Then?

What’s the Lifespan of Road Signs and What Happens Then?

Over the centuries, humans have constructed road signs from many materials, including stone, wood, plastic, and metal. Today road signage is typically made from reflective vinyl sheeting over an aluminum base or substrate.

Modern road signage is standardized, but signs come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. All road, directional, and overhead signs have one thing in common: every sign is in place to make travel safer and easier.

Read more to find out the lifespan of road signs with Transline Industries

Signs of History

Road signs weren’t always standardized. As the automobile came into greater use around the beginning of the 20th century, automobile clubs raised money through memberships to create their own road signage. This duplication of effort led to great confusion since a single stretch of highway might have signs from 11 different clubs.

In 1931, two national organizations that had created different sets of standards formed a joint committee and developed the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD) standards. The two organizations adopted the MUTCD in 1935. The manual has gone through many revisions but is still in use today. From its beginnings in the first part of the 20th century, the MUTCD is now updated regularly and available online.

How Long Does a Road Sign Last?

The useful life of a modern road sign is seven to 10 years, but various factors can require replacement more frequently. For instance, if a sign faces the direct desert sun, the faded sign will need to be replaced sooner than a sign installed on a shady mountain road. The letters may become illegible if a sign has had significant damage from hail or a vehicle accident. The entire sign might even be facing the wrong direction from impact in an accident.

Here are a few factors that might influence the life of a road sign:

  • Damage from accidents
  • Impacts from flying debris
  • Vandalism
  • Weather
  • Location
  • Material quality
  • Pollution
  • Theft

Since each municipality or state has thousands of traffic signs, overhead guide signs, and exterior guide signs, regular monitoring and signage maintenance can be daunting. It is critical to upgrade, restore, or replace signage regularly. According to the Federal Highway Administration, “Agencies are expected to prioritize replacement of these signs based on engineering considerations, similar to other traffic control devices.”

Signs Are Critical for ADA Compliance

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides accommodations to people with disabilities. It is crucial to comply with these regulations because non-compliance can severely inconvenience and even endanger people with disabilities. In addition, insufficient signage and markings can mean steep fines and public embarrassment for businesses and municipalities.

Transline carries products that promote safer roadways and parking lots for all people. We have ADA signage, curb warning pads, and detectable warning mats. ADA Compliance is one area to be particularly sensitive to signage affected by fading, vandalism, and theft.

Signs and More for the Transportation Industry

Transline Industries, Inc.’s headquarters is in Arlington, Texas, with locations in Florida, Louisiana, and Arizona, but we deliver quality custom road signage worldwide. We provide everything from Highway DOT signs to municipal signage with graphics and the structural support to hold signs in place for years.

When you need new road signs or replacements for old street signs, Transline Industries, Inc. is your source for signage and much more. In addition to signs, we also offer a robust catalog of other products for the transportation industry.

Road Signs and Safety

Cars, trucks, and other vehicles move fast today with a short window to view a safety or directional sign. Faded, damaged, or missing signs can put motorists and pedestrians in danger, especially at night. There are nearly three times as many nighttime crashes as there are in daylight.

Transline Industries has the signage you need to stay in compliance and keep motorists and pedestrians safe. Contact us online today or call us at 800-321-1751. Our friendly customer service representatives will be glad to talk with you.


What are street signs made out of?

We make our modern, durable road and directional signs out of a .080- or .125-gauge aluminum substrate. The sign’s words or symbols, colors, and reflective abilities come from vinyl film and reflective sheeting printed on a state-of-the-art printer designed for the purpose.

What to do with old road signs?

Since road signs can fade when exposed to weather or sustain damage in accidents, they may need replacement over time. But what do you do with old road signs?

If they’re made of aluminum, and the substrate is still in good condition, the plastic reflective vinyl on the top can be removed, replaced, and the sign can begin another life.
Aluminum is recyclable, so you can recycle the metal if the aluminum substrate is damaged.
Collectors, artists, interior designers, and architects may be interested in using old road signs for interior or exterior décor or art projects.
Selling signs online or at an auction can return municipal funds to a city.