Title

REDUCTIONS IN TRAFFIC SIGN RETROREFLECTIVITY CAUSED BY FROST AND DEW

Authors

E D. Hildebrand

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

2003

Subject Area

operations - traffic, planning - standards

Keywords

Traffic signs, Standards, Sign sheeting, Retroreflectivity, Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Highway signs, Frost, Field studies, Dew, Colour, Colors, Color

Abstract

A study of in-service traffic signs was undertaken to quantify the average effects of frost and dew on their retroreflective capabilities. The results were then compared with proposed minimum retroreflectivity standards recently developed by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)-sponsored research for inclusion in the "Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices." Although the effects of frost and dew were found to be variable, average reductions in retroreflectivity levels of 79% and 60%, respectively, were found. None of the different colored signs sampled with Type I (engineering grade) sheeting was found to meet the proposed minimum levels when covered in frost or dew (with the exception of signs with white backgrounds covered in dew), even though all signs were in like-new condition. Signs sampled with Type III (high intensity) sheeting had mixed results. The findings are significant enough that they should be considered in the development of the final version of the FHWA national standards. Furthermore, those jurisdictions subject to frequent cycles of frost and dew should review usage guidelines governing the grade of sign materials used, allowing for expected loss of retroreflectivity.