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Publication numberUS20060055559 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/938,250
Publication dateMar 16, 2006
Filing dateSep 11, 2004
Priority dateSep 11, 2004
Publication number10938250, 938250, US 2006/0055559 A1, US 2006/055559 A1, US 20060055559 A1, US 20060055559A1, US 2006055559 A1, US 2006055559A1, US-A1-20060055559, US-A1-2006055559, US2006/0055559A1, US2006/055559A1, US20060055559 A1, US20060055559A1, US2006055559 A1, US2006055559A1
InventorsCharles Leonard
Original AssigneeLeonard Charles R
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Retractable lighted traffic control strip
US 20060055559 A1
Abstract
A traffic control device specially adapted to replace lines of slow-burning flares now commonly used to direct vehicular traffic around a crime or accident scene. The device includes two spools of ribbons that mount a series of fluorescent, reflective and illuminated markers. The ribbons can be quickly unrolled and laid out on the pavement separately or end-to-end. The ribbons have laterally bendable segments that allow definition of horizontally arcuated traffic patterns. The illuminated markers are fired in repetitive sequential pattern pointing toward the direction of traffic. The spools are mounted on a holding caddy and incorporate a power source and an electronic lighting control unit for the illuminated markers.
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Claims(17)
1. The vehicular traffic control device which comprises:
at least one spoolable length of ribbon having a top surface, a bottom surface, lateral edges, a distal end, and a proximal end;
a plurality of directional markers mounted on said top surface;
a first type of interconnecting means at said distal end;
a second type of interconnecting means, at said second end cooperatively matable to said first type of connecting means; and
whereby a number of said lengths of ribbon can be interconnected end-to-end and laid on a roadway to direct traffic.
2. The device of claim 1 wherein said directional markers include reflective markers.
3. The device of claim 1 wherein said directional markers include fluorescent markers.
4. The device of claim 1 wherein said directional markers include illuminated markers.
5. The device of claim 4 wherein said illuminated markers extend above said top surface.
6. The device of claim 5 wherein said illuminated markers include sequential lighting circuits;
whereby said markers are sequential enabled according to the direction of traffic.
7. The device of claim 5 wherein each of said illuminated markers comprises:
a transparent cover;
a lighting element; and
a light-enabling circuit.
8. The device of claim 1 which further comprises:
a caddy including:
a frame;
at least one roller movably supporting said frame above ground; and
at least one spool shaped and dimensioned to spirally accommodate at least one of said lengths of ribbon.
9. The device of claim 8 wherein said caddy further includes a source of electrical power for said markers.
10. The device of claim 8 wherein said caddy further comprises electrical connectors to bring power to said markers.
11. The device of claim 9 wherein said source of power comprises a rechargeable battery.
12. The device of claim 1 wherein said length of ribbon further comprises laterally flexible segments;
whereby said length of ribbon may be laid flat on the ground in a horizontally arcuate pattern.
13. The device of claim 1 wherein said length of ribbon further comprises distance measurement marks along one of said lateral edges.
14. The device of claim 13 wherein a number of said markers are fluorescent.
15. The device of claim 1 wherein said first and second types of interconnecting means comprise patches of hook-and-loop fabric fasteners.
16. The device of claim 4 which further comprises mating electrical connectors at said distal and proximal ends.
17. The device of claim 8 wherein said caddy further comprises a retractable power cord.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to signs and traffic indicators and more specifically roadside traffic control indicators used to direct traffic around an accident or crime scene.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Traffic and law enforcement officers, as well as on-site emergency service personnel, commonly use lighted flares and reflective markers positioned directly on the pavement in order to divert traffic around a crime or accident scene. Each marker or flare must be positioned by hand against incoming traffic. This very hazardous task exposes the officers to a high risk of collision with passing vehicles.

The extinguishment of a flare or upsetting of a marker can create a gap in the traffic-diverting line which, if mistaken by a motorist for a permissible exit may cause a vehicle to burst upon the accident or crime scene. Besides the risk of injury to the victim and attending personnel, such a disruption can interfere with the investigation of the crime or accident and cause the destruction of critical evidence.

This invention results from an attempt to find a more expedient, and reliable way to delineate a traffic pattern across one or more traffic lanes.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The principal and secondary objects of this invention are to provide law enforcement and traffic officers, as well as people attending to an accident on a highway, with a means to rapidly deploy a traffic control indicator to direct incoming vehicles away from a crime or accident scene and make the traffic control indication immune to trespassing interference by passing vehicles.

This and other valuable objects are achieved by a spooled ribbon mounting a series of fluorescent, reflective and lighted markers, that can be quickly unrolled and laid out on the pavement. The ribbon has laterally bendable segments that allow definition of laterally accurate traffic patterns. The lighted markers are sequentially enabled to create flashing lines oriented in the direction of traffic. Several such ribbons can be connected end-to-end and can be quickly rolled back on the spool mounted on a rolling caddy. A battery and lighting control circuit is packaged in the hub of the spool.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a vehicular traffic control device according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a detailed frontal view of a spool hub;

FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic perspective view of a caddy electrically connected to an automobile;

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of a ribbon section;

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view taken along Line 4-4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view taken along Line 5-5 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view taken along Line 6-6 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 8 is a schematic of a lighted marker circuitry;

FIG. 9 is a ribbon wiring diagram; and

FIG. 10 is an electrical diagram of the lighting control unit.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawing, there is shown in FIG. 1 a vehicular traffic control device 1 according to the invention. The device is mounted on the caddy 2 consisting of a frame plate 3 mounted vertically with a handle bar 4 telescopically engaged in a sleeve 5 welded to the back edge of the plate. The position of the handle bar can be immobilized and adjusted in orientation and extension by a wing screw 6 mounted on the wall of the sleeve 5. The frame is rotatively supported over the ground surface by a pair of rollers 7, and stabilized when at rest by a rubber padded foot 8 mounted under the frontal edge of the frame plate 3. A pair of discs 9 are rotatively mounted against opposite faces of the frame plate 3 about an axle 10. A pair of threaded posts 11 project horizontally from the outer face of each disc. Each of the pair of spools 12 have channels 13 through their hubs 14 that are sized and positioned to engage over threaded posts 11 when the spools are mounted against the discs 9 and secured thereon by wing nuts 15. Knobs 16 mounted on the outer faces of the spools can be used to rotate the spools and discs in relation to the frame plate 3. A patch of hook-and-loop fabric fasteners 17 affixed to the hubs cooperate with interconnecting patches of mating fabric fasteners 18 which are affixed to the proximal ends 19 of marker-carrying ribbons 20. Accordingly, the proximal end of the ribbon may be quickly secured to the hub, and the ribbon wound on a spool by manipulating a knob 16. Electrical power and control signals for selectively lighting some of the markers on the ribbon are brought from the center of the hub to a connector 21 dangling from a pigtail 22 protruding from a bore through the wall of the hub. A mating connector 23 mounted on the proximal end of the ribbon carry the power and control signals to a multi-conductor ribbon-cable that run the length of the ribbon and terminates into a female connector 24 mounted at the distal end 25 of the ribbon. A patch of hook-and-loop fastener 26 of the same type as the patch 17 mounted against the hub is affixed to the distal end 25 of the ribbon. Several lengths of ribbon can thus be attached end-to-end by the cooperating patches 18, 26 of fabric fastened and electrically interconnected by ways of the mating connectors 23, 26 at the respective proximal and distal ends of the ribbons.

As more specifically illustrated in FIG. 2, a cavity 27 inside each spool hub houses a rechargeable battery 28 and a marker lighting control unit assembly 29 to be further described below. A connector 30 mounted in the exact center of the hub can be used to supply operational or recharging current to the battery 28. The position of the connector 30 allows the spool to be rotated for a number of turns without unduly twisting any outside cable bringing power from a remote battery charging unit to the spool. Alternately, as illustrated in FIG. 3, the connector 30 can be mounted on a retractable cord 63 which can extend from a receptacle 64 in the hub 14 to engage a corresponding connector on a more durable power source such as on an automobile 65.

As more specifically illustrated in FIGS. 4-7, each ribbon 20 comprises an extruded, pliable web 31 made of polyvinyl, neoprene or other elastomeric material. Flanged rails 32 are formed along the lateral edges 33 of the web. Semi-circular marginal cutouts 34 positioned at regular intervals along the full length of the web create narrowed sections 35 of the web that provide lateral flexibility, allowing the ribbons to be laid out flatly on the ground in horizontally arcuate patterns. A number of a first type, non-lighted marker 36 are mounted on the web between the narrowed sections 35. Each non-lighted marker consists of a slab of the same elastomeric material as the web having an outwardly projecting bead 37 whose lateral sections are of sized and positioned to intimately engage into the groves 38 defined by the flange rails 32. The top surface 39 of the marker slants downwardly from a central axially directed crest line 40. The proximal or trailing end section 41 of the top surface also slants down from the crest line 40 to the proximal edge 42 of the marker. A coat of the fluorescent material 43 is applied to the trailing section 41 and defined under low light conditions an arrowhead pointing toward the distal end of the ribbon. A reflective surface 44 that becomes luminescent when impinged by a ray of light is formed on the lateral slopes of the top surface 39. The reflective surface on each face is formed in the shape of an arrowhead also pointing toward the distal end of the ribbon. The reflective and luminescent surfaces can be created according to techniques well-known to the art by a grated, transparent and mirrored substrate. A number of illuminated or lighted markers 45 are also mounted on the web 31 each being intimately inserted between two of the just-described non-lighted markers 36. Each of these second type of markers comprises a transparent lens or cover 46 having the same external outline as the top surface 39 of a non-lighted marker. In addition, beads 47 similar and symmetrical with the beads 37 on the non-lighted marker are positioned along the lateral edges. The leading or distal and trailing or proximal lower edges of the lighted marker have grooves or beads 48 which are positioned and dimensioned to engage corresponding beads or grooves at the distal and proximal edges of the non-lighted markers that precede and follow the lighted marker. The bottom of each lighted marker is formed by a printed circuit board 49. Mounted on the board inside the marker are a number of lighting elements 50 such as LCDs 50, and some electronic components that will be described below. A series of contact pad terminals 51 on the under surface of the printed circuit board 49 interconnect with corresponding contact pads 52 positioned on a ribbon cable 53 affixed to the central upper section of the web and running the full length of the ribbon from the proximal male connector 23 to the distal female connector 24 in the pattern illustrated in FIG. 9.

In this preferred embodiment of the invention, the sequence of lighted and non-lighted markers between the two narrowed sections 53 consists of two non-lighted markers 31 at the front, two more at the end of the sequence framing two lighted markers separated by a non-lighted one for a total of seven markers. The second lighted marker in the sequence is mounted in an axially inverse orientation in reference to the first one in order to provide a non-crossing continuous pattern of conductors in the ribbon cable 53 as shown in the diagram of FIG. 9. Two types of lighted markers are provided distinguished only by inverted grooves and beads along their transversal edges that mate with adjacent non-lighted markers. It should be noted that in spite of the inverted positioning of some of the lighted markers, the succession of markers presents sloping edges to the wheels of any vehicle traveling in the direction pointed out by the markers. Accordingly, the position of a low profile ribbon will not be disturbed by being occasionally run over by a vehicle wheel.

As illustrated in FIG. 8, the lighting components 50 of a lighted marker are controlled by a circuit mounted on the printed circuit board 49 that forms the bottom of the marker. The circuit comprises a flip-flop or other toggling element 54 which is triggered or set by the trailing edge of an impulse arriving on terminal pad A the flip-flop is reset by the trailing edge of a clock pulse arriving on terminal pad D. When the flip-flop is set it enables a driver 55 which draws a current through the lighting elements 50 and a limiting resistor 56 from a source of electrical voltage arriving on either terminal pad C or E. The driver-enabling signal out of the flip-flop is fed to contact pad G. As shown in the diagram of FIG. 9, the ribbon cable connects contact pad G to contact pad A of the next lighted marker down the ribbon. It follows that the lighted markers are sequentially enabled in accordance with the direction of traffic. By making the issue of the signal that fires the first lighted indicator on the ribbon, a subset of the frequency of the clock signal that determines the period of lighting, a number of sequential lighting patterns can be created along the length of the ribbon.

The just-described lighting sequence is provided by the lighting control unit 29 located in the hub cavity 27 and illustrated in FIG. 10. Power for the control and illumination of the markers is provided by the battery 28 which can be recharged through the axial connector 30 and protective diode 57 and resistor 58. The power out of the battery is regulated by a voltage limiter 59 before being sent to the ribbon cable 53. An oscillator 60 generates the clock signal CLK that appears on the contact pad D along the entire length of the ribbon cable 53. The signal out of the oscillator is also fed to a four-stage counter divider 61 whose output is used as the start signal STR that is applied to the first lighted marker near the proximal end of the ribbon.

The output frequency of the clock signal out of the oscillator of preferably sixteen hertz and that of the start signal one hertz. Each ribbon has a total length of approximately ten meters (about thirty-three feet), a width of 7.5 centimeters (3 inches) and a total height, excluding the markers, of 0.63 centimeters (0.25 inches). Each marker has an axial length of five centimeters (two inches), and rises only 0.63 centimeter (0.25 inches) above the upper surface of the web.

On the spool having a radius of 30 centimeters (12 inches), with a hub of a 10 centimeter (4 inches) radius about 10 meters (33 feet) of ribbon can be spirally wound. Larger spools or shorter ribbon can be implemented so that a single spool can accommodate several ribbons.

Each ribbon carries 64 lighted markers and 96 unlighted ones. Based on a firing rate of one per second and a lighting period of 0.625 second per marker, about two sequential lighting patterns will appear at all time on each ribbon.

Distance marks 62 placed along a lateral edge of the web as shown in FIG. 4 allow the use of the ribbon as a convenient measuring tape.

It should be noted that by having several lighting components in each lighting marker no gap in the lighting sequence will be created if one or two of the components burn out. Moreover, the burn out of the entire series of lighting components in a marker will not interrupt the lighting sequence. Failed lighting markers can be quickly popped out off the web and replaced by a new component. The tongue-and-groove engagement of the markers with the web flanged rails and surrounding non-lighted markers provide a waterproof seal that protects the printed circuit board and the contact pads on the ribbon cable against the intrusion of water or other corrosive liquids.

The lens cover of the lighted markers can be made of polycarbonate or other strong plastic material that will resist breakage under the impact weight of trespassing vehicles.

While the preferred embodiment of the invention has been described, modifications can be made and other embodiments may be devised without departing from the spirit of the invention and the scope of the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7538688 *Aug 23, 2006May 26, 2009Robin Hardie StewartPortable area safety zoning system
US8013741 *Jan 11, 2011Sep 6, 2011Visible Assets, Inc.Evidence tracking
US8403545 *Sep 30, 2010Mar 26, 2013Hong Fu Jin Precision Industry (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd.Illumination device and electronic device using the same
US20120039080 *Sep 30, 2010Feb 16, 2012Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd.Illumination device and electronic device using the same
WO2009126120A1 *Apr 7, 2008Oct 15, 2009Wall Henry HTraffic signal light control system and method
Classifications
U.S. Classification340/908.1
International ClassificationE01F9/00
Cooperative ClassificationE01F13/028
European ClassificationE01F13/02D