Traffic cones are mainly used for marking off driveway or road hazards, and to control the traffic entering the construction zone.
However, there are times you’ve probably seen them being used as Christmas trees and all types of unintended purposes, including reserving a parking slot in a hotly contested park or driveway.
If you live in manufactured home community, an apartment or any other residential area where you must compete for parking space with other residents, commuting back home from work is always filled with fear of missing out on your slot in the driveway.
The problem is, nine out of ten times you would find it occupied by someone else’s car.
You are more likely to get frustrated and leave a few garbage bins or traffic cones standing to ward off the potential space raiders.
What Do Traffic Cones Look Like?
Cones are brightly colored, often yellow, with reflective strips to be visible even at night.
Most cones are made from light plastic or rubbery materials so that they don’t pose danger to road users when knocked out of position. However, they still pose a significant danger to some road users such as inattentive cyclists and pedestrians.
An averagely sized cone lying on the road is enough to disorient a speeding cyclist. Also, not all manufacturers would use light plastic in their cones.
Because most jurisdictions don’t have standards dictating what a traffic cone should be made from and at what size, some makers do use hard and heavy plastic that can damage a car.
Even if the car was moving slowly, a cone may damage the underbelly or even scrape off some streaks of paint.
What About The Law?
What does the law say about reserving a parking slot on the driveway using cones? After all, this is not a public road or any high traffic space, are you not justified to erect a few of them just so your car can have some space when you’re back?
Whether or not to cone-off may depend on your local laws.
Local police often take a dim view of individuals who cone-off parking spaces outside their homes to prevent residents and visitors from clogging their neighborhoods.
This is still true even for neighborhoods where this practice is highly endemic.
If you cone-off a slot on the driveway in the complete absence of other cars, or if everyone else drove off shortly after you had erected them, you would have created an island of unusable space. This amounts to blocking the driveway and can hamper its smooth use by other drivers.
Blocking the traffic on your driveway (even on regular roads) with cones is risky regardless of the motivation behind it.
What Do The Safety Experts Say?
Safety experts recommend you be aware of the conditions of your surroundings regarding the presence of obstacles, direction, and speed of the vehicles, pedestrian traffic, and intersection as well as the weather conditions and state of the road.
Windy conditions or a wet driveway can knock the cones over or cause the car to skid, two situations that may cause cones to pose risk to the motorist.
If You’re Not Sure, Don’t Do It
Most states forbid residents or anyone else to reserve spaces in the driveway by putting traffic cones or any other object that makes space look cluttered or pose danger to motorists and pedestrians in the neighborhood.
First off, the driveway is not recognized as personal property.
If you must reserve a parking slot then you must use the lawfully recognized methods, otherwise, it would be an offense.
If it is reported to the police that you are restricting members of the public access to the driveway, itself a public amenity, an appropriate punitive action might be taken against you.
However, it is important to note that such an act would largely qualify as a law matter rather than an actual legal matter – a simple warning or a small penalty would do. These cases go unreported most of the time.
In fact, the reason why this behavior is so endemic in some neighborhoods and seems to be perfectly normal is the tendency of the “violated” to shrug it off and look for a free space elsewhere.
Just a few actually end up calling the police to compel the other person to remove their cones.
Also, police response in some neighborhoods can be upwards of 2 hours – this doesn’t look like a duration you would sit there waiting for justice, most of us, therefore, would rather move on than push around.
Another thing is that many people tend to prod themselves into thinking the whole thing is temporary or simply worth ignoring.
In some areas, cones are illegal if they are used in such a way that another person is prevented from smoothly entering or leaving the driveway, either from their home or commercial establishment.
The same laws that restrict this conduct may also apply if you drop your wheels in the curb in front of someone’s home. Otherwise, the placement of the cones would be perfectly legal.
Police often find themselves educating people not to put cones in the driveway in front of their homes because it is ‘not your birthright’ to park the car in front of your house.
The space in front of your home located in a neighborhood may be used by anyone whether you rented or bought the property unless you have a clearly designated parking space approved by the neighborhood’s management.
There are better ways of warding off space raiders instead of putting cones in the driveway
Put Up A Sign Instead
Some people don’t know your need the space so bad, so consider pinning a sign telling them space is supposed to be used by your car – “Hey buddy, this space is PRIVATE!”
Talk to them
If you came to the realization that only a specific neighbor or someone you know keeps taking over “your” space, call them aside and let them know how badly you need it.
Designate the space as yours
If you are disabled or you feel you are the only one who can use a certain parking slot on the driveway, consider designating it as so. You might need to provide proof either to the local community or any other authority responsible for managing the properties in your area.
Whether you come-off or not, the laws of most states forbid reserving spaces or parking without permission in these spaces:
- Areas designated as private, loading zones, or reserved for people with disability
- In designated taxi bays
- On red lines
- In bicycle lane
- Near the entrance of a school
- In spaces reserved for such individuals as motorbike riders, residents, or some special individuals (must be entitled to park there)
- In front of a direct entrance to a property
- Near or at a bus stop
- Anywhere that would restrict access for emergency service providers
- 10 meters within or opposite of a junction
- On a dropped curb (a stone edging to a pavement or raised path)
Here is everything you need to understand as far as placement of cones on the driveway is concerned
- It is illegal to put cones on the driveway because it is a public space. Unless you are disabled or the relevant authority managing your residential area has given you a right to designate part of the driveway as your parking slot.
- The police often educate people that not every swath of space in front of their homes is theirs. The parking slot in the driveway is only yours when your car is sitting on it, otherwise, anyone else has a right to use it as desired.
- Unless your street is managed by the residents’ parking permits or any other relevant membership-based governing establishment, any member of the general public can park their car in that street provided they comply with restrictions and don’t cause obstructions
- Rules governing the parking spaces and general use of driveways may vary from place to place
Note that you may not be liable for damages caused by conning-off your driveway just to reserve a space for yourself.
A person asking for repair for damages caused by traffic cones is very much similar to anyone asking who should repair the windshield that was ruined by a hailstorm.
However, it may only hold if the cones were exactly where you left them and not in direct violation of your local laws.
If you put cones you put them there and, unfortunately, they got knocked over by wind or something and ended up in wrong places, you may be liable for damages inflicted on someone else’s property because you would be at fault.
The annoyance of coming home and finding someone’s car in the driveway right in front of your home is intolerable to most people.
You are justified to cone off a space in the driveway for your car only if the management of the residential area gave you permission for a valid reason.
Otherwise, it would be illegal to restrict other members of the public from accessing publicly available spaces, a driveway is one of them. Penalties are seldom hefty; all it may take at times is a warning.