Home Not so random numbers: Mile markers on Virginia’s interstates are emergency aids for location

Not so random numbers: Mile markers on Virginia’s interstates are emergency aids for location

Rebecca Barnabi
interstate sunset mountain
Photo by Crystal Abbe Graham

At periodic intervals along major highways of Virginia are green-and-white mile marker signs on the right shoulders to aid travelers in reporting their location in an emergency.

The Virginia Department of Transporation encourages drivers as they embark on holiday trips to use mile marker signs on interstates. A “Mile Marker 101” video is available to advise travelers on how to find and use mile marker signs. Interstate mile marker signs are usually placed at every mile and may also be posted every 0.1 or 0.2 miles. The signs help emergency responders map their route to reach an individual in need of assistance.

“Time is precious in an emergency,” said VDOT Chief of Maintenance and Operations Kevin Gregg. “Mile marker signs help travelers report their location as precisely as possible when calling for assistance.”

Messages about incidents, congestion and road work are also communicated on changeable message signs using mile markers as locations.

“Knowing where you are may help emergency responders reach you faster. After logging many miles on a road trip, motorists experiencing an emergency may not remember the most recent interstate exit they passed, especially if they are traveling in an unfamiliar area. Mile markers signs provide accurate information to travelers that is not reliant on technology or wireless connectivity,” Gregg said.

Travelers who spot debris or other road hazards on the interstate are encouraged to use mile marker signs to include the location in work order reports. Contact VDOT’s Customer Service Center 24 hours a day online or by phone at 800-FOR-ROAD (367-7623) or to submit a request, report a hazard or ask a question.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.