The Federal Highway Administration announced that minimum maintained retroreflectivity values are required for pavement markings. This is a big step forward for improving roadway safety for motorists and also helps development of automated vehicle functions. Requirements will become effective on September 6, 2022 with a 4 year compliance window.
What you need to know
Minimum retroreflectivity requirements apply to all roads with a speed limit of 35mph or greater, with some exceptions.
- Speed limit 35 mph but less than 70 mph
- 50 mcd/m²/lx minimum
- Speed limit 70mph and higher
- 100 mcd/m²/lx minimum
Excluded are the following:
- Markings on roadways with ambient illumination that keeps the markings adequately visible
- Markings on roadways that have less than 6,000 vehicles per day AADT (average annual daily traffic)
- Dotted extension lines that extend a longitudinal line through an intersection, major driveway, or interchange area
- Curb markings
- Parking space markings
- Shared-use path markings
Minimum retroreflectivity requirement does not apply to:
- Transverse markings
- Word, symbol, and arrow markings
- Crosswalk markings
- Chevron, diagonal, and crosshatch markings
It is noted that special circumstances will periodically cause pavement marking retroreflectivity to fall below the minimum levels. As long as a reasonable course of action is in place to bring the retroreflectivity levels back above the minimum levels in a timely manner, roadways will still be considrered in compliance.
Agencies have four years to become compliant with the rule.
There are a few different methods allowed to maintain minimum retroreflectivity values, which are described in FHWA-SA-14-017 Methods for Maintaining Pavement Marking Retroreflectivity. They include the following methods:
- Measured Retroreflectivity
- Nighttime Visual Inspections
- Consistent Parameters
- Calibrated Pavement Markings
- Service Life Replacement
- Based on Historical Data
- Based on Monitored Markings
While not all methods require a retroreflectometer, use of a retroreflectometer takes the subjectivity out of the equation and is a very cost effective way to ensure compliance, especially compared to service life replacement based on historical data and nighttime visual inspections using consistent parameters.
Links to the Rule and Methods documents are below: