Retroreflectivity FAQs

Relocated Signs

Can I relocate an existing sign?

Answer – you may relocate or reinstall an existing sign as long as it meets or exceeds the current minimum Retroreflectivity requirement levels. The FHWA ruling on relocated signs require that all relocated signs and posts meet the new regulations in reflectivity and crash worthiness.

How do I know if the relocated sign meets current minimum reflectivity requirement levels?

Answer – it needs to be tested in some manner.

How can I test reflectivity of the relocated sign?

Answer – you can visually inspect the sign which is often an unreliable testing method.

Answer – You may have the sign tested by using a reflectometer (Reflectivity Meter).

What is my liability if I reinstall are relocate a noncompliant sign?

Answer – The Agency, contractor or person who is responsible for the sign relocation or reinstallation may be negligent or liable for any injuries, accidents or incidents that are the result of the noncompliant sign that was reinstalled or relocated.

Why is the agency, contractor or person relocating or reinstalling the sign responsible for the liability or negligence?

Answer – They may be responsible because they are the last agency, contractor or person who had the opportunity to evaluate the condition and the minimum Retroreflectivity level of that sign.

How will I be able to prove that the sign met the current standards at the time of the relocation or reinstallation?

Answer – Our recommendation, is testing the sign with a Reflectometer to insure that the sign meets the minimum reflectivity standards.

Answer – documentation – have the testing company or agency provide you with a written report or documentation of the testing results and maintain this report for your records. We recommend keeping the records for a minimum of 10 years.

Answer – have the signs marked were labeled with the date and testing companies information

Traffic Signs for Highway Occupancy Permits

Many times when an industrial or commercial business, developer, residential complex or building is built, a Highway occupancy permit is issued or required to access the state or municipal roadway. Many times traffic signs are required to be installed to control traffic entering and exiting the roadway.

Many Highway occupancy permits and approved plans (which are signed by the state and/or municipal agency and the property owner or representative of the owner) indicate in the notes on the plans that the property owner is responsible to maintain any items which are part of the Highway occupancy permit or plan. This includes traffic signs, which the majority of the time is not the responsibility of the state or municipal agency to maintain and replace as they become no longer serviceable.

What does this mean to the owner of the property with the Highway occupancy permit?

Answer – This means that the owner of the property is responsible to maintain the traffic signs relating to the Highway occupancy permit for this property. They must be maintained to the serviceable standards under the current laws. This includes maintaining minimum reflectivity requirements and levels for those signs.

What happens if a sign is stolen or removed? For example due to an accident.

Answer – The property owner is responsible for maintaining all signs associated with the Highway occupancy permit, at all times.

How long does the owner’s responsibility last?

Answer – The owner’s responsibility will continue as long as they own the property and traffic continues to use the entrance and exit onto the roadway for which the permit or was obtained.

As an owner am I or is it my responsibility to have a traffic sign, management and assessment program in place?

Answer – Yes. According to the MUTCD any road open to public travel even on private property shall maintain a traffic signage to minimum reflectivity levels.

Who will enforce this law and make an owner comply with the requirements relating to traffic sign management, assessment and Retroreflectivity levels?

Answer – There have been insurance claims and settlements relating to missing or non-maintained signs when accidents, injuries or death have occurred within the areas of the Highway occupancy permit.

Answer – There are currently law educational institutions teaching information relating to the Retroreflectivity requirements within the USA. We expect this to become a large litigation and liability issue within the coming years.

Answer – We expect that in the future, insurance firms providing coverage for liability, to focus on traffic sign management and Retroreflectivity requirements. It is possible that in the future the company, owner or firm being insured may be required to provide proof that these requirements are being met in order to receive coverage. Depending on the potential for incidents his could provide a great liability concern for the insuring agency.

What is the easiest way to ensure that as a private property owner with a Highway occupancy permit I am meeting the requirements of the law for traffic sign management and assessment?

Answer – You will need to have a written plan in place by June 13, 2014. You will need to implement that plan, which will require you or a firm you have contracted with to document, test and manage any traffic signs which are your responsibility.

There are a countless accidents, injuries and even deaths that occur when vehicles are exiting and entering the Highway. Based on the information and research that D. E. Gemmill Inc. has completed, failure to put a traffic sign management and assessment program into place may create a huge liability issue for the property owner or permit holder.

Private property traffic signage – on properties open to public travel

If I own a private property and it is open to public travel (for example: a shopping center, business park, convenience store, bank, etc.) do I need to have a traffic sign management and assessment program in place?

Answer – Yes. The law states that any private property open to public travel shall maintain their signs in accordance with the MUTCD Retroreflectivity levels.

Will someone inspect my property and ask me for my plan?

Answer – Currently no government agency will likely inspect your property at this time. In the future however the plan could become part of inspection, occupancy or licensing for a municipality, as they look to alleviate responsibility for any incidents.

Answer – We expect in the future, if your insurance carrier inspects the property they may ask to see your plan. We expect this to be more prevalent as lawyers and insurance carriers become familiar with the law and look to place blame or alleviate blame for any incidents in which their clients are involved.

What is the benefit for my property to institute a traffic sign assessment and management plan?

Answer – If you are proactive in this law, it may assist you in relief of liability and/or negligence. If you can prove that the traffic signs meet or exceed the current minimum levels of Retroreflectivity, have documentation that they sre installed correctly, and maintained in working order you and or your insurance carrier may be able to better defend yourself should an accident or injury occur.

Work zone and temporary traffic control devices

Do my work zone and temporary traffic control signs and devices need to meet minimum reflectivity standards and levels?

Answer – Yes. The law states that this standard includes permanent temporary and portable traffic signage.

If I am renting traffic control signs were devices how do I know that they meet the minimum reflectivity standards and levels.

Answer – Ask for documentation from your rental company that the signs for devices have been tested and meet the current Retroreflectivity levels.

Who is responsible if an accident occurs because my traffic control signs and devices are deficient in their Retroreflectivity levels?

Answer – Possibly all parties involved may be responsible. Our opinion on this subject is that if the signs and devices blatantly do not meet the Retroreflective requirements and you own them and continue to use them you may be negligent and or liable for damages or injuries which occur due to the insufficient visibility of the items.

Answer – If you rent the items and it is obvious that the items are deficient in Retroreflectivity requirements and levels it may be all parties involved in the use, ownership and set up of the signs and devices. This is our opinion on rented items.

What is D. E. Gemmill Inc.’s stance on rental devices received for a traffic control project which may have deficient Retroreflectivity levels?

Answer – Our stance is that you should require documentation for every rental making sure that the signs and devices meet minimum reflectivity requirements.

Answer – If you do not receive documentation for the signs and devices you are renting and they visibly appear to be deficient, require the firm you are renting from to replace them immediately. And document your request through E-mail, fax etc.

Should I trust that devices being used on Highway projects meet minimum Retroreflectivity levels?

Answer – In some cases, some State Department of Transportation contracts write in the contract that all traffic control signs and devices shall be in new or like new condition. However there are some states which do not enforce the condition of the traffic control signs and devices which are being used on their projects.

Answer – If the work zone is established by an agency other than the State Department of Transportation, it cannot be assumed that the signs or devices are compliant. They may or may not be up to standard. Contractors, local municipalities, utility companies etc. are still trying to process the law and the affects it may have on their operations, subcontracts, and daily operation.

If I own traffic control signs and devices should I implement a traffic sign management and assessment program for those signs and devices?

Answer – Yes. If you want to ensure the safety of the people and vehicles traveling through your work zone and the personnel working within that work zone we recommend instituting a plan. This will also assist you in liability and negligence claims should an incident or accident occur and you have your work zone set up properly. Documentation and testing may be your best friend in such situations.

What is the life expectancy of traffic control signs and their Retroreflectivity levels?

Answer – That is impossible to answer because there are many variables which play into the life expectancy of these items. This includes the care, the maintenance, storage, frequency of use and conditions in which they are used. The materials used to manufacture such items also play an important role in the life of such signs and life expectancy.

Traffic sign Retroreflectivity levels and life expectancy

What are some of the variables which affect the Retroreflectivity levels and life expectancy of traffic signs?

Answer – There are many things that can affect the Retroreflectivity levels and life expectancy of a traffic sign, this includes but is not limited to:

  • Weather conditions
  • Direction in which the sign is installed and receives sunlight
  • Sheeting manufacturers life sheeting rating of the reflective material used to manufacture the sign
  • Whether or not the sign is screen printed or manufactured using vinyl and EC film sheeting
  • What is the most accurate way to determine if my signs still meet Retroreflectivity levels?

Answer – The most accurate and accept method of testing is using a Reflectometer to measure the reflective level of the sign.

Isn’t there a visual method which can be used to determine if my sign still meets minimum Retroreflectivity levels?

Answer – Yes there is a visual method which may be used. However you must follow the criteria set forth when doing the visual test to try and get the most accurate results. There are several opinions that a visual testing method may be very difficult to defend in a court of law.