mutcd pavement marking retroreflectivity standards

Mandatory Minimum Pavement Marking Retroreflectivity Standards for US Roads

After a long period of consultation and assessment the Federal Highway Administration has announced pavement marking retroreflectivity standards that are required to provide minimum levels of retroreflectivity for pavement markings on all roads open to public travel in the United States.

This is a welcome update to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and it is believed that it will play a key role in reducing transportation-related fatalities and serious injuries. The ruling will also help to support the operation of Autonomous Driver Assisted Systems (ADAS) that are increasingly dependent on high quality longitudinal pavement markings to operate correctly.

Summary of key changes to rules for Pavement Marking Retroreflectivity:

  • The minimum retroreflectivity of longitudinal pavement markings is 50 mcd/m2/lux on roads with speed limits of 35 mph or greater, where average annual daily traffic is 6,000 vehicles per day.
  • The minimum retroreflectivity of longitudinal pavement markings is 100 mcd/m2/lux on roads with speed limits of 70 mph or greater.

The FHWA has decided that this standard does not apply to other pavement markings such as center symbols, arrows, chevrons or words and that crosshatch markings, transverse markings and crosswalks are excluded from the minimum standard.

The methods for maintaining pavement marking retroreflectivity are detailed in FHWA-SA-14-017 Methods for Maintaining Pavement Marking Retroreflectivity. These include visual inspections, measured retroreflectivity, expected service life replacement and blanket replacement.

Next Steps for US Road Agencies

We would highly recommend that US road agencies start the planning process now to address how they will monitor and maintain pavement markings to the new standards for minimum retroreflectivity levels. We believe the most efficient solution which maximises data collection and minimises disruption to road users is the RetroTek-D mobile retroreflectometer system. This will enable road authorities to get accurate retroreflectivity measurements across the full lane width in one pass, day or night, minimising survey time and fuel costs. The ability to compare survey results over different years within our survey software helps authorities to plan and predict pavement marking maintenance requirements and budgets.

These MUTCD changes are effective from 6 September 2022 and road authorities and Departments of Transport have a 4 year period to comply with the new rulings.

For more information about the RetroTek Technology, contact:

Reflective Measurement Systems Ltd.
Joe Turley, CEO
Phone: +1 469 619 0899

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