​The Great Debate: Renting vs. Buying Traffic Safety Equipment

Posted by


In the world of highway contractors and traffic control companies, purchasing new equipment can seem like a risky move. It’s kind of like driving a new car off the lot. The second you start the ignition the value of your shiny, new vehicle decreases dramatically. That same feeling resonates with contractors about their traffic safety equipment procurement. The second you put it out on the road it will be forced into the elements of weather, wear and tear and quite possibly (but hopefully not) traffic collisions. That’s why many people opt to rent traffic equipment, giving them the chance to rotate out old equipment for new. While it sounds like a great idea in theory, renting traffic equipment is often cost and time prohibitive. Renting involves way too many variable costs. Seeing as OTI’s pricing model is manufacturer direct, it is in fact a more viable option to purchase equipment rather than rent.

While renting may seem like a cheaper alternative, once you factor in all the extra fees that get tacked on, the costs can become exorbitant without even realizing it. Most traffic safety rental houses charge a minimum rental fee, a set-up fee, a tear-down fee, and a recovery fee if any of their products are marked and damaged during use, (and due to the nature of the business, they probably will be). Customers that take the route of working with rental companies are also given a limited stock, and a pre-selected brand of products. And we see this a lot with lower priced items such as traffic cones, delineator posts, safety barrels and roll-up signs. Extra fees and limited selection isn’t sounding so appealing.

OTI isn’t trying to shake up your entire business model, but we do advise you to take a closer look at the numbers. When you partner with OTI, some of our traffic safety products are paid for by the second or third day on the jobsite. Daily rental rates can exceed 20% of the replacement cost of the product alone, not including other associated fees. Without even realizing this will cost you more money in other areas - lower job costs, opportunities to secure more low bids, and ownership of the equipment to take on to the next job. Taking the time and doing a little proactive research can provide you with facts and figures you need to make an informed decision.

Locking Up the Lot: A Quick Guide to Parking Area Safety

When we think traffic safety, highways and city roads often spring to mind. Parking lots are an area that often get overlooked, but require similar traffic equipment to create the necessary safeguards for pedestrians and motorists. Sometimes temporary or moveable apparatus is a more suitable fit than a permanent fixture. Many products are now designed with the look of permanent installation, but offer the ease of removing the safety product in areas where seasonal weather is in play. Another great example is areas that require asphalt maintenance. A great solution in this case would be to use products that can actually be removed. These products include speed bumps, speed humps, parking stops, lane delineators, pedestrian crossing and water-filled barriers.

Rented or purchased, parking lot or major interstate – none of these things change the fact that the traffic safety products that you put on the road are put there to perform. By partnering with OTI, we connect you with the safest, more durable traffic safety equipment on the market. The companies we represent have been impact tested under NTPEP and products meet the Federal Highway National Cooperative Highway Research Project standard, NCHRP 350. Traffic safety regulations are an area that continues to see additional federal & state regulation changes on a yearly basis and it is crucial to stay in code compliance.

As a manufacturer of traffic safety goods as well as a master distributor for your most trusted partners in North America, OnTarget has the reach necessary to get you the superior products and knowledge to keep your employees and your drivers protected from harm’s way. Most products are designed and manufactured in the United States to meet strict product placement and technical aspects of your project and/or applications. Our products are sold to traffic control companies, highway contractors, state dept of transportation, municipalities, utility companies, parking lot operations, and many more across the United States. Products are made of the highest grade plastic resin and utilize high performance reflective stripes, assuring a safe and durable product line. Many items are indestructible and have the ability to be reshaped and reused if flattened in a collision.

By the Book: An Important Overview of Federal Laws for Work Zone Construction

If you need a refresher, here are some important mandates to keep in mind when it comes to regulatory compliance.

On July 27, 1997, the FHWA's Office of Engineering issued a guidance memo mandating that all work zone devices, used on the National Highway System (NHS), be crash tested to NCHRP 350 requirements. This memo went on to divide many of these devices into four (4) categories, with each having their own level of testing requirements and compliance dates. These categories are defined as:

Category 1 includes those items that are small and lightweight, channelizing and delineating devices that have been in common use for many years and are known to be crash worthy by crash testing of similar devices or years of demonstrable safe performance. These include cones, tubular markers, flexible delineator posts, and plastic drums with no attachments. These devices may be allowed for use on the NHS based on the developer's self-certification.

Category 2 includes devices that are not expected to produce significant vehicular velocity change, but may otherwise be hazardous. Examples of this class are barricades, portable sign supports, intrusion alarms, and drums, vertical panels, or cones with lights. Testing of devices in this category will be required. However, they may qualify for the reduced testing requirements. The compliance date for this category is October 1, 1998.

Category 3 is for hardware that is expected to cause significant velocity changes or other potentially harmful reactions to impacting vehicles. Hardware in this category must be tested to the full requirement of NCHRP 350. Barriers, fixed sign supports, crash cushions, and other work zone devices not meeting the definitions of Category 1 or 2 are examples from this category.

Category 4 includes portable or trailer-mounted devices such as Arrow Displays, Temporary Traffic Signals, Area Lighting Supports, and Portable Changeable Message Signs. After compliance date of October 1, 2002, this class of devices may not be used unless they are placed behind crash worthy barriers or shielded with TMAs or crash cushions.

Traffic safety may seem pretty orange and white but there a lot of factors to take into consideration. When you’re dealing with the safety and well being of a large number of people, it’s important to go by the book and know the facts. We’re the experts and we’re here to help you with all of your traffic safety equipment needs.