Close your eyes. You’re in Michigan. The year is 1911. You are sitting in a car next to one Edward N. Haynes, chairman of the Wayne County, Michigan, Board of Roads. Ahead of you is a leaky milk wagon that leaves a white trail along the road. Then, suddenly, Haynes experiences a Eureka moment. You have just witnessed him inventing the first road surface marking.
Until that moment it just did not exist and cars collided with each other all the time.
Bonus fact 1: Oddly, the idea to paint central road dividers on highways appeared separately – and apparently with no connection – in three different states (Michigan, California, and Oregon). Do I hear “Great minds think alike?”
Bonus fact 2: The earliest road signs ever found are milestones. The Roman historian Plutarch attributes the idea of milestones to Gaius Sempronius Gracchus, a famous politician from the 2nd century BC.
The milestones were placed every thousand double-steps of the legion that installed them. As a result, the distances between them were not uniform. A legion that marched boldly set a great distance from an exhausted legion.