Retroreflectivity is a measure of a traffic sign’s ability to reflect light from oncoming vehicles’ headlights. This is achieved through the use of special sheeting containing small reflective glass beads.
Using retroreflective materials avoids the need for illuminated signs that are costly and time-consuming to maintain. However, in the past, many agencies have adopted a “set it and forget it” approach to signage, ignoring the fact that materials degrade over time and lose their reflective properties.
It’s for this reason that the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) now outlines detailed specifications for the use and maintenance of retroreflective signage. Municipalities and state agencies are required to develop and implement a management and assessment program that will maintain regulatory and warning sign reflectivity at or above the established minimum levels.
Why Is Retroreflectivity Important?
According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), almost a quarter of all accidents occur during rain, sleet or snowy conditions. In addition, fatal crash rates are up to four times higher in nighttime crashes. The common denominator in these two statistics is visibility — if drivers can’t see the traffic signs ahead of them, they will be more prone to making an error that can lead to an accident.
Retroreflectivity is critical for ensuring sign visibility in low-light or otherwise adverse weather conditions. By reflecting light from a car’s headlights, retroreflective signs are easier to see ahead of time and drivers can adjust their behavior accordingly.
Both permanent and temporary traffic signs must meet minimum standards for retroreflectivity. Failing to do so can open an organization up to liability issues, legal fees, and other penalties. It may also invalidate your insurance coverage should there be an accident on your property.
Developing a Retroreflectivity Plan
A retroreflectivity management plan is an inventory of all retroreflective traffic signs in your jurisdiction, indicating their type, size, height, and location. It contains a schedule for testing and monitoring each sign based on its installation date and guidelines for replacement when performance falls below a specific level.
For organizations with a large number of signs spread out across a wide geographic area, managing this information is a considerable task. Many use sophisticated software to keep track of these details. However, the software requires training and IT resources. For an easier alternative, consider outsourcing your retroreflective sign management to D.E. Gemmill Inc.
How We Help
D.E. Gemmill Inc. is a leader in traffic sign management and testing for organizations in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia. Using advanced equipment and technology, we provide scheduled sign retroreflectivity testing and asset management to meet your regulatory requirements and improve overall safety outcomes.
We offer plans tailored to the individual needs of our clients and personalized service from our team of industry experts. Our management programs include detailed reporting that helps you make informed decisions and keeps equipment maintenance costs to a minimum.
For more information about how we can help you meet your sign retroreflectivity requirements, send us your questions or contact our office by phone or email.
The technology and regulations involved in retroreflectivity are continually changing and evolving. We are up to date on the new retroreflectivity laws and provide testing and plan development to help you meet the latest mandates.