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Publication numberUS3622980 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 23, 1971
Filing dateAug 5, 1968
Priority dateAug 5, 1968
Publication numberUS 3622980 A, US 3622980A, US-A-3622980, US3622980 A, US3622980A
InventorsElledge Fred Russell Jr
Original AssigneeCassell Co Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Directional warning system
US 3622980 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent Fred Russell Elledge, Jr. Napa, Calif.

Aug. 5, 1968 Nov. 23, 1971 Cassell Co. Inc.

[54] DIRECTIONAL WARNING SYSTEM 4 Claims, 9 Drawing Figs.

52 u.s.c1 340/82, 40/129 R, 40/129 (3, 296/21, 340/87, 340/109 511 1m.c| .G08g1/09 so FieldoiSearch 340/22, 74. 81-84, 87, 107-109,119, 135, 136, 138, 366, 373;

[72] Inventor [21 Applv No. [22] Filed [45] Patented [73] Assignee 2,473,187 6/1949 Zelk 340/97 X 2,958,847 1 1/1960 Trufanofi' 340/26 3,094,683 6/1963 Watkins 340/136 3,143,722 8/1964 Murch 340/87X 3,375,365 3/1968 Gross 340/87 X 3,479,641 11/1969 Summers 340/82 X FOREIGN PATENTS 660,583 2/1929 France 340/82 635,974 1/1928 France 40/129 C 857,271 4/1940 France 240/1.2 1,304,187 8/1962 France 296/21 400,895 11/1933 Great Britain. 240/1.2 427,752 4/1935 Great Britain.... 340/82 372,014 6/1939 ltaly 240/1.2

Primary Examiner-John W. Caldwell Assislant Examiner-Kenneth N. Leimer Attorney-Gregg and Hendricson ABSTRACT: Method and apparatus for directing traffic from a distance in which a plurality oflamps are arranged in two interleaved groups with each group defining at least three arrowheads aligned one behind the other and arrowheads of separate groups being opposed. The lamps ofa selected group are sequentially energized.

DIRECTIONAL WARNING SYSTEM BACKGROUND OF INVENTION Although the invention described and claimed herein may be directed to a variety of applications, it is herein described in connection with application to early or distant warning and direction indication for automotive vehicle operators. Particularly with the advent of high-speed freeways and throughways, it has become increasingly necessary to provide improved signs, warnings and the like to appraise motorists of decisions they must make in vehicle speed, direction and the like. Extensive advances have been made in this respect, particularly in the field of large illuminated signs advising of on-ramps and off-ramps, intersections and the like. These types of signs are normally physically mounted in fixed position above or beside roadways, and usually at some considerable distance from a point at which a decision must be made as to turning of a vehicle or changing ofspeed.

In connection with the warning and instruction of vehicle operators, itis unavoidable that temporary traffic diversions shall occur, and these, of course, also require warning and direction means for oncoming trafi'lc. With regard to construction and repair work on or adjacent highways and the like, it is often necessary to temporarily close one or more lanes of a freeway, for example, so that traffic must be diverted from these lanes. Such diversion is commonly accomplished by the use of movable conical markers which may be placed along the roadway, as, for example, in a line slanting across a lane to be closed, and, usually, one, or more, flagman with brightly colored flags is located in the area to attract the attention of motorists and to wave them in the desired direction of vehicle traverse. In conjunction with the foregoing, it is not common to employ some type of blinking lights, as, for example, along the side of an open ditch, or the like, to warn motorists of possible danger.

Serious danger exists for flagmen and road crews located on high-speed freeways, for only slight miscalculation or confusion by oncoming motorists can produce drastic results. Even a flashing light atop an emergency, or repair, vehicle will be seen by the operator of a vehicle approaching a 60 miles per hour for less than 30 seconds, and often only seconds. This provides the motorist with very little time to decide what action is required and to take such action in a safe manner. Oftentimes accidents result from hasty decisions acted upon under these conditions.

The present invention is particularly directed to the provision of early or distant warning of oncoming vehicular traffic by the provision of a system having high-intensity lamps or lights visible to great distances and sequentially energized in predetermined order to provide directional information to approaching motorists. This then provides a marked improvement in protection for road crews and maximized safety for motorists consonant with minimized disruption of trafiic flow.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION The present invention provides an improved warning and directional indicating system. The system hereof is described with respect to mobile units inasmuch as the invention is particularly advantageous in this application, but, of course, no limitation is intended thereby. Further, the invention is referenced herein to usage in warning and directing following motorists; however, it is, of course, possible for a mobile unit hereof to be designed to direct warning and directional indicating lamps toward oncoming motorists. Mobile embodiments of the present invention provide a moving, or at least a movable, warning and direction system for first attracting the attention of oncoming motorists at a substantial distance, and second, for providing trafi'ic direction, also at a substantial distance from the location of traffic redirection so that the motorists have adequate time within which to take necessary action. The invention is highly advantageous in connection with temporary lane closure on freeways and the like, for the warning and direction system hereof is constituted so as to be applicable for operation at normal vehicle speed. This is particularly important in the original closure of a lane, so that traffic may be slowed and redirected as required while the lane is being closed, as well as being properly directed after closure. The invention includes both truck-mounted and trailer-mounted warning system in the form of panels or signs normally carried in a retracted, or stored, position so that the carrying vehicle may be moved at high velocity along highways and the like and yet capable of movement to actuated position for full observance by following vehicles and energizationto provide only warning but also direction indication to such vehicles. With the truck-mounted system of the present invention, the truck operator from the cab thereof raises the warning panel to operative position while traveling down a freeway, or the like, and energizes the high-intensity lamps of the panel in predetermined order to indicate to following motorists the direction in which they should pass the truck and then slows down the truck with little or no disruption of following traffic until the truck is stopped in the lane to be closed. Physical markers may then be safely placed on the freeway, or the like, to show lane closure and the flow of traffic thereat, with the truck then proceeding on down the closed lane to a point of road repair. The invention also provides for towing of the trailer unit, so that it may be physically located at the original point of truck stoppage and energized to provide the early or distant warning and direction required for this operation. With the trailer in such position, the truck may then proceed on down the closed lane to locations at which work is to be performed.

Of particular importance in the present invention is the type of warning and direction-indicating means employed. High-intensity amber lights are utilized herein with means for varying the intensity of light emitted. It is also provided in accordance with the present invention that the warning and directional sign, or panel, shall normally have at least some lights energized with others being sequentially energized to maximize direction indication. It has been found that visual depth perception is adversely affected by intermittently energized, or blinking, lights. Consequently, the present invention does provide for the maintenance of steady light emanation from some portion ofthe sign, or panel, hereofin most embodiments.

DESCRIPTION OF FIGURES The present invention is herein described and illustrated with respect to particular preferred embodiments thereof, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings wherein:

FIG. I is a perspective view of a truck-mounted warning and directional indicating device in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a rear elevational view of a trailer-mounted device in accordance with this invention;

FIGS. 3 to 5 are illustrations of light panels, or signs, depicting alternative embodiments of the same in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 6 is an illustration of a remote control panel located in the cab of a truck, such as shown in FIG. I, and, also, schematically illustrating electric and hydraulic control lines extending therefrom;

FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of sign-mounting and movement means of the embodiment of the present invention illustrated in FIG.

FIG. 8 is a sectional view of the sign-mounting and movement means taken in the plane 8-8 of FIG. 7; and

FIG. 9 is a side elevational view of the trailer-mounted unit of FIG. 2 with the sign, or warning and directional panel, located in operating position.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Considering now the present invention in some detail and referring to the drawings, it is noted that in FIG. I there is illustrated an embodiment of the present invention, including a warning and directional sign 11 mounted atop the cab of a self-powered vehicle 12, such as a small truck or pickup. The sign ll is shown in FIG. 1 to be disposed in operative position in vertical extension across the top of the cab to expose the rear, or message, surface of the sign to visual observance by vehicle operators following the truck. The sign 11 is carried by a sign-supporting frame 13 affixed to the top of the truck cab and extending upwardly therefrom. Provision is made for movably mounting the sign on the frame 13 by actuating means 14, such as a hydraulic system described in greater detail below. The sign is movable between a horizontal stored position generally parallel to the top of the truck cab in closely spaced relation thereto, and the illustrated actuated position of substantially vertical orientation in extension upwardly from the top of the cab. Mechanism for sign movement energization and control thereover is described and illustrated below in connection with FIGS. 6, 7 and 8; however, it is noted that movement of the sign between stored and actuated positions is preferably controlled from the truck cab by an operator and, furthermore, that movement of the sign between these positions is capable of being accomplished during movement of the truck along a highway, or the like.

Before proceeding with a further description of the embodiment of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 1, note is made of an alternative embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2. As will be seen by reference to this FIGURE, the unit thereof incorporates a warning and directional sign 2] carried upon a wheeled trailer 22, as by means of a sign-supporting frame 23. Similarly to the embodiment of FIG. 1 this trailer-mounted unit is provided with sign-moving means operating in a controlled manner to move the sign between a horizontal stored position and a vertical actuated, or operating, position, as shown, Details of this embodiment of the present invention .are set forth below, particularly in connection with the illustration of FIG. 9.

Considering now the sign, or signs, of the present invention, it is noted that in FIGS. 3, 4 and 5 there are illustrated signs ll, 21 and 31 in accordance with the invention. Warning and directional indication is provided in accordance with the present invention by the provision of a plurality of lights mounted on the rear surface of the sign and arranged and energized in particular order. As will be seen from reference to FIG. 3, there is provided at the left of the sign as illustrated a cluster of five lights, la, lb, 10, Id and 12 in the form of an arrowhead pointing to the left. At the right of the sign, as viewed in this FIGURE, there is a cluster of five other lights, 1f, lg, 1h, 11' and 1], formed in the outline of an arrowhead pointed to the right. These two arrowheads of lights are aligned with each other across the sign, and a common arrow shank is provided by a pair of lights, 1k and 1m, spaced substantially equidistant apart and equidistantly between lights lo and 112. On this particular sign face there is also provided an alphabetic instruction illustrated in the form of the word pass" located above the lights and formed, for example, of prismatic reflecting surfaces. Suitable lamps for the sign 1 1, as well as other signs in accordance with the present invention, are sealed beam amber lamps of the type often termed automotive fog lamps" having a very substantial light output, such as a maximum beam candlepower of 8,800. These lamps, preferably, have a substantial lateral spread but very limited vertical spread. It is desired for the warning of the sign and the message thereof to be beamed at very substantial distances, so as to be seen by oncoming motorists. A horizontal beam spread of 40, for example, provides for easy visibility at laterally displaced positions such as on curves of freeways. Limitations upon the vertical divergence, or beam spread, is employed to maximize the amount of available candlepower in the desired direction. It is additionally noted with respect to the lamps of the sign that each lamp is provided with a hood 36, somewhat in the manner of traffic lights, for the purpose of minimizing the entry ofsunlight into the lamps.

The sign 11 is noted above to be comprised of lamps arranged as two oppositely directed arrowheads with a number of intermediate horizontally aligned lamps in the manner of an arrow shank. Before proceeding with a detailed description of sign-mounting and movement means, attention is invited to the manner of lamp energization, not only for warning but also for direction indication in accordance with the present invention. Referring to FIGS. 1 and 3, it is first noted that the sign may be energized to indicate that vehicular trafiic should pass to the left, should pass to the right or should pass on either right or left of the truck carrying the sign. Considering first the sequence of operations pass to left," it is provided that lamps la to 12 shall burn steadily to form a visual arrowhead pointing to the left. Lamps 1h, 1m and lk are sequentially lit in the stated order to provide a visually moving light path into the arrowhead. This then provides to an oncoming motorist a steady light source for early or distant warning with such light source itself comprising an arrowhead pointing in the direction the motorist is to pass the sign, and, also, provides a sequencing of light forming a path to the arrowhead. With regard to the sequencing, the lamp lh may first be turned on and after a delay of 400 milliseconds, for example, the lamp lm turned on and after a subsequent delay of 400 milliseconds the third lamp 1k turned on, with the three lamps 1h, 1m and lk then burning for a further 400 milliseconds, for example, so that the complete arrowhead and shank are lit for this period, and then the three lamps lh, 1m and 1k are turned off and the cycle repeated. For the indication pass to right" the lamps l f to lj are continuously lit, and the lamps lc, 1k and 1m are sequenced in that order, such as described above. For directing vehicles to pass to either or both sides of the truck carrying the sign, the lamps la, lb, ld, le, 1f, lg, 11 and lj are lit to burn continuously and the centrally aligned lamps 1c, 1k, lm and 1h are flashed on and off. One advantageous mode of operation provides 25 to 35 cycles per minute of lamp operation under any of the above-described modes, and it is noted that in each situation certain lamps remain burning. This has been found to be quite important in providing depth perception to oncoming motorists. Although blinking lights attract attention, they, unfortunately, fail to provide a reference for proper depth perception under many circumstances. It is, of course, necessary for vehicle operators to be able to locate the distance at which warning and direction are being provided. In FIG. 1 there is illustrated the sign in operation on pass to left" instruction at the point wherein each of the lamps employed for this mode of operation is lit.

Alternative lamp arrangements upon the sign are also provided in accordance with this invention. It is to be appreciated that for highway application there are certain maximum sign dimensions for convenience of use thereof. A convenient sign size is of the order of 6-feet long by 3-feet high. It has been found that while certain advantage lies in providing written directions such as the word pass" on the sign 11, greater spacing of the lamps between each other is advantageous in providing direction at even greater distance. As the sign of the present invention is approached from a great distance, the individual lamps of any cluster appear as a single light source, and, within reason, the greater the separation between lamps the greater the distance at which the orientation of the lamps may be determined by oncoming motorists. Thus the sign 2l is provided with the same lamp arrangement as sign 11 but with the lamps spaced further apart. This is made possible by elimination of the alphabetic legend, or word, on the operative face of the'sign. Actuation of the lamps of the sign 2! is the same as that of sign 11, but it has been found that the intelligence imparted by the sign is available to oncoming motorists at a greater distance than that of sign ll.

An additional and preferred embodiment of the present invention comprises an even more powerful sign, shown in FIG. 5, wherein a larger number of lamps are provided and they are sequenced in a different manner. As shown, this embodiment of the invention is provided with some 22 lamps on the rear, or operative, face of the sign. In this embodiment of the sign of the present invention groups of lamps are lit to form arrowheads, and the groups are lit in sequence to move the arrowheads in the direction desired to indicate the side on which vehicles should pass. The sequence of operation for "pass to left" is first the lighting of lamps 2a to 2e which forms an arrowhead pointed to the left and located at the right of the sign. These lamps continue to burn through the illumination portion of the cycle, and, after say 400 milliseconds, the lamp 3a 5 to 3e are lit to form a second arrowhead at the center of the sign and pointed to the left. These lamps, then, continue to burn and, after say 400 milliseconds, lamps 4a to 4e are lit to form a final arrowhead pointed to the left and located at the left of the sign. The entire array of three arrowheads then remains lit for some short period of time, such as an additional 400 milliseconds, at which time the lights are extinguished for a short period as, for example, 300 milliseconds and the cycle repeated. It will be seen that to an oncoming motorist there is visually displayed first, second and third illuminated arrowheads pointed to the left and moving to the left, as successive arrowheads are lit during each cycle of operation. It has been found that this particular arrangement is visible at a distance of 2 to 3 miles, not only as to the presence of warning lights but, also, the direction information conveyed thereby. It will be appreciated that this sign 3] is also adapted for illuminating three successive arrowheads pointed to the right, with the sequence of operation being the same as that described above but reversed with respect to direction. In

order to provide instructions to pass on either side of the sign, the four lamps of the two opposed arrowheads at opposite sides of the sign are continuously lit, and the four central lamps across the sign are flashed simultaneously.

It is, of course, to be appreciated that some variation in which lamps are continuously lit and which are flashed, sequentially lit, is possible with respect to each of the signs described above. Thus, for example, in sign 1 1 it is possible for the lamps la, lb, 1d and 1e to be continuously lit for pass to left instructions and the lamps 1h, 1m, 1k and is sequentially lit, rather than having the lamps 1a to 1e continuously lit. It is also possible under certain circumstances to provide altemative lamp locations upon the operative face of the sign of the present invention. It is, however, provided hereby that one operative face of the sign shall carry a plurality of high-intensi- 4O ty lamps adapted for predetermined and sequential energization. Furthermore, the invention provides particularly that the sign thereof shall be mobile, so as to be readily movable along a freeway, or the like, and, in addition, shall be movably mounted between a carrying and operative position upon the wheeled vehicle carrying same.

Further with regard to the embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIG. I, for example, it is noted that sign movement and energization are adapted to be accomplished from the cab of the truck 12. A schematic illustration of control means for the invention is shown in FIG. 6. Referring to this portion of the drawing, it is noted that there is shown a control panel, or console, 41 which is adapted tobe mounted within the cab of a truck, as, for example, under the dashboard thereof. This control panel is adapted. to energize sign-raising means and sign-energizing means from the electrical system, including a battery 42, of which there is such in the vehicle. Insofar as the electrical system is concerned, the control panel is illustrated to include an on-off" switch 43 for connecting the battery 42 to light-control circuitry 44 for energization of same. This light-control circuitry 44 is connected by a cable 46 to the lights of the sign, or panel, as described above. Certain control functions are operated from the control panel. There will be seen to be provided on the control panel a three-position switch 47 which may be turned to positions left, right 'or simultaneous,d so as to actuate any one of the signs illustrated in FIGS. 3, 4 and 5 to indicate either pass left," pass right or pass on either side. Indicator lamps 48 are provided on the control panel to show which mode of operation is being carried out by the illuminated sign of the present invention under the control of the operator by means of switch 47. Actual light energization and sequencing are controlled by circuitry 44 with its control-panel setting choosing the mode of operation. Various types of circuits may be employed for this purpose; thus no further description thereof is included herein.

A further portion of the present invention which has not previously been discussed is the controlover intensity of illumination of the lamps of the sign. It is, of course, to be realized that the present invention is applicable for utilization under both daytime and nighttime conditions, and it has been determined that it is necessary to employ a greater light intensity from the lamps of the sign during the daytime than at night. Consequently, there is provided upon the control pane 43 a switch 49 movable between day and night positions and operating to decrease the intensity of illumination of the lamps in the night position. Further to this variation in light intensity, it is noted under certain adverse atmospheric conditions it is important to be able to further decrease the intensity of illumination of the lamps of the sign. Thus, for example, during foggy conditions it is important to be able to reduce illumination in order that light will not merely be reflected back from the moisture in the atmosphere. Thus there is provided upon the control panel 43 a dimmer" switch 51, by means of which the voltage applied to the lamps may be unifonnly decreased to cut down on the intensity of illumination thereof.

It is provided in accordance with the present invention that the sign 11 mounted upon the top of the cab, or truck, I2 of FIG. I shall be movable between a storage, or carrying, position under control of the operator of the trucks. To this end, there is provided a switch 52 on the control panel 43which serves to energize an hydraulic control unit 53 mounted, for example, on the top of the cab and operating one or more hydraulic pistons 54, as described in more detail below. Illustration of this hydraulic system in FIG. 6 is only schematic, and details of the sign-mounting and sign-movement means are described below.

Consider now the embodiment of the present invention illustrated in FIG. I as to the remote-controlled movement of the sign from a horizontal to vertical, or actuated, position as may be accomplished during movement of the vehicle, reference is made to FIGS. 7 and 8 of the drawings showing the preferred manner of mounting and movement of the sign of the system hereof. The sign 11 is shown in these FIGURES in a retracted, or carrying, position in which the sign is generally horizontally disposed, so as to provide the least resistance to airflow over the vehicle as same travels down a 5 highway, or the like. Sigmmounting means 61 are provided in detail below. This frame 61 also includes mounting means in the form of suction cups 67 adapted to engage the top of the truck cab, as illustrated in FIG. 7. These suction cups are preferably adjustably attached to the frame 61 as in the manner illustrated, in order to accommodate some variations in contours of the different cab tops. In order to tightly engage the suction cups with the cab top provision is made for physically tightening the frame down on the top by bolts 68 extending through the cab top on opposite sides of the sign frame 61 and secured thereto, so that upon tightening of a nut on the bolt the cups are flattened onto the top of the cab for maximum contact therewith.

At the middle of each side of the frame 61 there is provided an upstanding member, or mounting bracket, 71 secured to the outside of the respective side beams 66, and each carrying a short stub shaft 72 that, in turn, carries a U-shaped connecting member 73. The connecting members 73 are firmly anchored to the sign on opposite sides thereof, and, of course, the stub shafts 72 are coaxial, so that the sign is pivotally mounted on the frame. With regard to the sign itself, it is noted that same may be advantageously formed as sandwich structure having, for example, aluminum front and rear panels with expanded polystyrene therebetween and a rim about same. Bonding may be accomplished by a suitable cement or glue and openings and channels are formed in the center portion, or polystyrene, of the sign to accommodate the rear of lamps mounted in the operative face and electrical wiring extending between such lamps. Each lamp is provided with a retainer and hood holding the lamp in place and shielding the lamp from strong overhead illumination such as sunlight.

The sign 11 is adapted to normally rest in a horizontal position as illustrated in FIGS. 7 and 8. The connecting members 73 engaging the sign for mounting of same are located below the center of the sign and, as illustrated, the mounting shafts 72 are one-fourth of the height of the sign from the bottom thereof. It is provided that the sign shall pivot about the stub shafts, and, consequently, the bottom of the sign must clear the forward portion of the sign when in retracted, or carrying position. The top side beams 66 of the frame extend rearwardly from the upright frame supports and may include inwardly turned ends upon which there are provided bumpers 76 upon which the top of the sign rests when in horizontal position, as illustrated.

With regard to raising and lowering of the sign between stored and operative positions, it is, of course, possible to manually pivot the sign as by a lever, for example; however, the present embodiment provides for hydraulically operating the sign by remote control. To this end, there is provided the hydraulic cylinder 54 having the top thereof pivotally mounted by stub shafts 82 extending through sides of a short channel 83 that is, in turn. bolted to the inside of the side beam 66, as illustrated. In this manner the cylinder itself is free to pivot about these stub shafts, while being restrained from any translation with respect to the beams 66. The hydraulic cylinder 81 contains a piston having a shaft 84 extending from the end of the cylinder and pivotally pinned between a pair of depending cars 86 on the U-shaped mounting member 73 engaging the sign. This structure is best illustrated in FIG. 8; however, it is noted that the cylinder mounting is such that the cylinder is free to pivot into a vertical position, and this may be accomplished by removing a portion of the bottom of the channel 83 or providing the channel with rearwardly extending lugs on opposite sides of the piston for carrying the stub shafts 82.

In operation of the sign, an operator in the cab of the truck presses the raise" switch on a control panel to thereby actuate a hydraulic pump in the unit 53 so as to apply pressure to hydraulic cylinder 54 below the piston therein. This, then, forces the piston toward the top, or rear end, of the hydraulic cylinder so as to pivot the U-shaped support member 73 and the sign carried thereby about the side shafts 72. As the sign pivots, the hydraulic cylinder also pivots, and, in this respect, it is noted that hydraulic connections to the cylinder are flexible and of sufficient length to accommodate this movement of the cylinder. The hydraulic unit 53 may be comprised as a convention unit such as those commonly employed for the raising and lowering of convertible tops of automobiles, and may thus incorporate a solenoid-actuated valve which remains open as long as the switch 52 on the control panel is actuated. It is noted that this switch is preferably spring loaded so as to return to normal position as soon as released, in order that the pump of the hydraulic unit will not continue to operate by an operator inadvertently leaving the switch at the raised position. As illustrated, the sign is maintained in raised position by hydraulic pressure, although it is, of course, possible to provide a mechanical latch, if desired. Full movement of the sign from horizontal, or stored, position to operative position pivots the sign 90, so that it is vertically disposed in the position illustrated by dashed lines in FIG. 7. In this position the sign is fully visible to motorists following or approaching the vehicle from the rear. In practice, the top of sign may be located about 12 feet above ground level, so that it is readily visible to oncoming motorists over the tops of automobiles in front of them, and yet, the truck with the sign raised may readily pass under overpasses, bridges and the like. The sign is also returned to stored position by the hydraulic system by holding the switch 52 in the lower" position, so that the piston of the hydraulic cylinder retracts to pivot the sign down to horizontal.

An alternative embodiment of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 2 but employing the sign of FIG. 4 or the preferred sign embodiment of FIG. 5 is noted above to comprise a trailer-mounted unit which is fully mobile and which is adapted to be pulled by a truck or other self-powered vehicle to a location at which it is disengaged and left in operating condition some distance from the location of roadwork, or the like, in a lane closed by the trailer unit. Referring now to FIG. 2 and also FIG. 9 illustrating this embodiment of the present invention in side elevation, it will be seen that there is provided a trailer 22 having a pair of wheels 101 connected by an axle having a housing carrying a trailer bed 102. This bed extends ahead and behind the axle, and there is rigidly mounted upon this bed a frame 103 substantially above the axle. A warning and directional sign 21 is rigidly affixed to sign-carrying means 23, including at least a pair of parallel support members 104, a central crosspiece 107. The sign-supporting frame 23 is pivotally mounted on the box frame 103, as by stub shafts 108 extending through the laterally opposed top front comers of the frame 103 and through the elongated members 104 of the sign-supporting frame 23.

The sign 21 upon its support frame 23 is adapted to be pivoted between a horizontal storage, or carrying, position and a vertical operating position as indicated in FIG. 9. This may be accomplished either manually or by a power unit such as a hydraulic unit. In this respect it is possible to employ a chain hoist arrangement for manually raising of the sign; however, it is noted that some type of mechanical advantage is preferably provided inasmuch as the sign-supporting frame 23 is quite elongated in order to raise the sign to the desired height above the trailer bed. As a preferred manner of rasing and lowering the sign there is illustrated in FIG. 9 a hydraulic lift system similar to that described and illustrated in connection with the embodiment of FIG. 1. In this structure there may be provided a pair of hydraulic cylinders 111 pivotally mounted on the outside of the parallel top members of the box frame with piston rods extending therefrom into pivoted connection with lateral extensions of the cross bar 106 of the signsupporting frame 23. The trailer unit is adapted to be selfenergized, and to this extent there is shown to be provided a motor generator 112 mounted on the bed of the trailer adjacent the axle and providing electrical power for operation of the lamps of the sign 21 through a control unit, shown to be disposed in a box 113 also mounted on the floor of the trailer. A suitable hydraulic unit 114 is shown to be provided for operation to actuate the hydraulic cylinder 111 for raising and lowering of a sign-supporting frame 23.

The sign-supporting frame of the trainer unit is quite long, and, although it is not generally raised during travel, it may be towed in raised position. To insure full locking of the frame in position there may be provided mechanical locking means for maintaining the sign-supporting frame in either stored or operative positions. As illustrated in FIG. 9, small matching holes may be provided in the longitudinal members 104 of the sign-supporting frame and the adjacent members of the box frame 103, with pins 116 being provided to fit these aligned holes to mechanically lock the sign in raised position. These pins may also be inserted in other cooperating holes in the sign-supporting frame and box frame to lock the sign in stored position, as indicated at 117. Further with regard to rasing and lowering of the sign by means of the sign-supporting frame, it is noted that the bottom cross member 107 of the sign-supporting frame may be provided as a counterweight, so as to more evenly balance the frame about the mounting axles 108. Such a counterweight may, for example, be formed as a sealed cylinder having an opening so that it may be filed with water, for example, and then closed to provide the desired weight at the lower end of the sign-supporting frame. It may also be used as a gasoline tank.

As noted above, the trailer unit is adapted to be connected to a power unit such as a truck, or the like, and drawn along a highway or freeway to a point of use. To this end, there is provided a trailer hitch 118 at the forward end of the trailer bed 102, and it is to be noted that it is possible for the trailer unit to be actuated from a driving vehicle, such as a truck hauling the trailer, by the incorporation of control circuitry through or adjacent the trailer hitch to the truck and to a control panel within the cab of the latter. Normally this is not required because the truck unit carrying a warning and directional system itself would have its own system operating to redirect oncoming vehicles at the time the trailer is stopped. The present invention further provides means for maintaining the trailer in fixed position when located as desired. Such means are shown to be comprised as pivotally mounted jacks 121. A pair of these jacks are disposed one on each side of the trailer bed 102 near the rear thereof with the jack housing 122 pivotally connected to a side rail of the bed and a threaded depending shank and foot 123 being operated by a crank handle 124 atop the jack. A mechanical latch may be provided for maintaining the jack in a normal horizontal position, so that when the trailer is stopped it is possible to readily rotate the jack into vertical position and by turning the crank 124 lower the jack foot into physical contact with the roadway. A front jack 126 is disposed immediately behind the trailer hitch 118, and may either be comprised as the rear jacks described above, or, alternatively, may be fixed to the frame with means for lowering the foot sufficiently to engage the roadway as illustrated. It will be noted that the majority of weight disposed on the trailer is located ahead of the axle for better balance and, also, to counterbalance the weight of the sign when pivoted into stored position. It is noted that it is the rear surface of the sign which is the operative surface carrying the lights, and that the sign-carrying frame is mounted to pivot the sign rearwardly and downwardly from operative to stored position.

Although the individual portions of the present invention have been fully described above, both as to construction and operation, it is noted that particular cooperation between portions of the invention and embodiment thereof is provided herein. Thus, the mobile unit illustrated in FIG. 1 has been stated to be highly advantageous in initial closing of freeway lanes for example, inasmuch as the warning and directional sign thereof is movable from stored to operative position during high-speed travel of the truck by the operator of the truck from within the truck cab. Consequently, the truck may be slowed down with the warning and directional system operating and vehicles following the truck are smoothly redirected. This removes the present-day hazard of initially closing a freeway lane or establishing a detour when there is no substantial break in the flow of traffic at the time of desired closure or rerouting of trafiic. Not only is the truck unit of FIG. I highly advantageous for this purpose, but, also it may, of course, be employed to remain in position warning oncoming motorists and redirecting them about the truck while workmen proceed ahead of the truck to carry out repairs, or the like, upon the roadway. Alternatively, however, there are many circumstances wherein it is desired to temporarily close a freeway lane or redirect traffic on a highway the duration of such closure or redirection being fairly substantial, as, for example, a number of hours, days, weeks or months. Under these circumstances it is highly advantageous to connect the truck unit and trailer unit illustrated in H65. 1 and 2, and to initially close the freeway lane, or the like, as described immediately above, by utilization of the warning and redirectional system of the truck unit, with the truck and trailer coming to a halt at a desired position on the freeway some distance from the area of actual work or repair. At this point the trailer unit is actuated to raise the sign and turn on the lights in desired mode of operation, with the trailer jacks being lowered and the selfcontained power supply energizing the sign. With the truck then disengaged it may move on down the freeway leaving the unmanned trailer to carry out the functions of the present invention and free the truck for further use, either as an additional warning system at the same or another location or for other purposes such as the carrying of supplies, personnel or the like. In this way, it is not necessary for the truck unit itself to be immobilized. It is furthermore noted that the sign 3! illustrated in FIG. 5 provides for energization of a greater number of lamps than the signs 11 and 21, and, consequently, a greater amount of electrical power is necessary for operating sign 31. While most utility vehicles have a sufficiently large alternator to provide adequate power for truck operation and operation of signs 11 and 21, at least some vehicles may not generate sufficient power for operation of sign 31. Of course the trailer unit of the present invention has a separate power supply which provides adequate electrical energization for any sign that may be employed in accordance with the present invention. Further to this it is possible to employ an auxiliary power supply on a truck unit, if necessary.

There is provided by the present invention an improved and highly refined early or distant warning system for alerting and redirecting high-speed highway traffic. In particular, it is noted that the present invention comprises a mobile warning and direction system, and in one embodiment hereof provides for full operation of the invention by the operator of a vehicle moving at high speed along a freeway or the like. This system is thus highly advantageous in the protection of highway crews and workmen, as well as in the prevention of automobile accidents otherwise resulting from faulty driver decisions occasioned by insufficient notice of trafiic redirection.

That which is claimed is:

l. A mobile distant warning system for vehicular traffic comprising a sign having an operative face, means for mounting said sign upon a vehicle for controlled movement between a first retracted substantially horizontal position and an upright position disposing said operative face for viewing by operators of other vehicles, a plurality of high intensity lamps directed outwardly from the operative face of said sign, said lamps being arranged in a plurality of arrowheads one ahead of the other laterally across the sign face in both directions, power supply means for energizing said lamps, and means sequentially lighting lamps of said arrowheads in succession laterally across said sign face in a selected direction for visually directing vehicular traffic to the left or the right of the vehicle mounting the sign.

2. The warning system of claim I further defined by the means sequentially lighting said lamps first lighting a group of lamps on one side of the sign to form an illuminated arrowhead directed toward the other side of the sign, and then lighting successive arrowheads in order across the sign to form illuminated arrowheads pointing toward said other side of said sign while maintaining previously energized lamps lighted until all arrowheads pointing in the same direction are lit and then deenergizing all lamps and repeating the sequence.

3. The mobile warning system of claim 1 further defined by the sign mounting means including a frame adapted for attachment to the top of the cab of a self-powered wheeled vehicle, means pivotally connecting said sign and frame, and a hydraulic system including a hydraulic cylinder engaging said frame and sign and powered by said vehicle with control means therefor disposed in said cab for pivoting said sign between said retracted and upright positions.

4. A method for directing traffic from a distance comprising the steps of arranging a plurality of high-intensity lamps in two interleaved groups with the lamps of each group defining at least three arrowhead configurations with the arrowheads of each group aligned one behind the other and the arrowheads of separate groups being opposed,

sequentially energizing the lamps of one selected group having the arrowheads thereof pointing in the direction of desired traffic direction by first energizing the lamps of the rear arrowhead of the group and then successively energizing the lamps of succeeding arrowheads of the group while continuing the energization of lamps until all lamps of a group are energized, deenergizing all lamps of the selected group, and repeating the cycle of sequentially energizing and deenergizing the lamps of a selected group of lamps.

I 1F i l

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U.S. Classification315/323, 340/908, 40/591, 296/21
International ClassificationG08G1/09, E01F9/012, E01F9/011
Cooperative ClassificationG08G1/096758, G08G1/096783, G08G1/096791, G08G1/096716, E01F9/0126
European ClassificationE01F9/012E, G08G1/0967A1, G08G1/0967B3, G08G1/0967C3, G08G1/0967C2