Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - performance, organisation - performance


Specifications, Site selection, Simulation, Sign sheeting, Road design, Retroreflectivity, Placement (Location), Performance tests, Materials, Luminance, Location, Locating, Life tests, Legibility, Highway design, Geometric design, Distance, Computer simulation, Computer models, ASTM International


Retroreflective materials for traffic control devices are designed to return light from a vehicle's headlamps back to the driver. Recent advances in material technology have created prismatic retroreflective sheeting. This type of material does not have the predictability in its retroreflective performance of the older, glass-bead material. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) recently recognized three new types of prismatic material for traffic control devices. The on-road performance of these new material types was examined through the use of computer simulation of sign luminance. Inputs to the computer model included vehicle dimensions, headlamp illumination data, material retroreflectivity data, sign placement, and roadway geometry. A variety of sign positions and roadway types was included to illustrate the similarities and differences among the three new types of material. The ranking of the three materials in terms of sign-luminance performance depends on the roadway configuration and the viewing distance. ASTM Type VII is shown to be comparable to Type VIII at long distances with small entrance angles but superior to Type VIII and IX in large entrance-angle situations. ASTM Type IX is shown to have higher luminance at shorter distances associated with sign-legibility distance ranges. Engineers and specifiers are encouraged to evaluate on-road sign performance at night before making material choices.