U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Publication No. FHWA-SA-10-015
This document may be modified as needed as a result of rule-making and will be re-issued concurrent to the Final Rule.
Pavement markings are an accepted method to communicate both the intended travel path and roadway alignment for drivers during day and nighttime conditions. To ensure consistent application of pavement markings, their characteristics and warranting criteria are described in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).
The new MUTCD Section 3A.03 requires agencies to use a method designed to maintain longitudinal pavement markings to a minimum level of retroreflectivity outlined in Table 3A-1. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) believes that this change will promote safety while providing sufficient flexibility for agencies to choose a maintenance method that best matches their specific conditions.
The new MUTCD Section does not imply that an agency must measure every pavement marking. Rather, the new MUTCD Section describes methods that agencies can use to maintain pavement marking retroreflectivity at or above the minimum levels. Agencies can choose one of these methods or combine them. However, agencies must adopt a method that produces results which correspond to the values in Table 3A-1. Agencies are allowed to develop other appropriate methods based on engineering studies, as long as there is still a tie to the values in Table 3A-1.
Within the new MUTCD Section there are subtle but important distinctions that categorize pavement markings into three general types:
The new MUTCD Section recognizes that there may be some pavement markings that do not meet the minimum retroreflectivity levels at a particular point in time (such as during winter months in northern climates, along some isolated horizontal curves, near driveways, etc). As long as the agency with jurisdiction is maintaining pavement markings in accordance with Section 3A.03 of the MUTCD, the agency will be considered to be in compliance.
This document introduces the new MUTCD Section, references existing MUTCD language, and it also describes methods that can be used to maintain pavement marking retroreflectivity at or above the MUTCD's new minimum maintained retroreflectivity levels.
Public agencies or officials having jurisdiction shall use a method designed to maintain retroreflectivity of the following white and yellow longitudinal pavement markings, at or above the minimum levels in Table 3A-1:
Compliance with the above Standard is achieved by having a method in place and using the method to maintain the minimum levels established in Table 3A-1. Provided that a method is being used, an agency or official having jurisdiction would be in compliance with the above Standard even if there are pavement markings that do not meet the minimum retroreflectivity levels at a particular location or at a particular point in time.
There are many factors for agencies to consider in developing a method of maintaining minimum pavement marking retroreflectivity including, but not limited to, winter weather, environmental conditions and pavement resurfacing.
Except for those pavement markings specifically identified in the Option below, one or more of the following methods, as described in the 2010 Edition of FHWA's "Summary of the MUTCD Pavement Marking Retroreflectivity Standard (see Section 1A.11)," should be used to maintain retroreflectivity of longitudinal pavement markings at or above the levels identified in Table 3A-1:
Public agencies or officials having jurisdiction may exclude the following markings from their minimum pavement marking retroreflectivity maintenance method(s) and the minimum maintained pavement marking retroreflectivity levels, but not from any requirements in Section 3A.02 to be retroreflective.
|Posted Speed (mph)|
|Two-lane roads with centerline markings only2||n/a||100||250|
|All other roads2||n/a||50||100|
Markings that must be visible at night shall be retroreflective unless ambient illumination assures that the markings are adequately visible. All markings on Interstate highways shall be retroreflective.
Centerline markings shall be placed on all paved urban arterials and collectors that have a traveled way of 20 feet or more in width and an ADT of 6,000 vehicles per day or greater. Centerline markings shall also be placed on all paved two-way streets or highways that have three or more lanes for moving motor vehicle traffic.
Centerline markings should be placed on paved urban arterials and collectors that have a traveled way of 20 feet or more in width and an ADT of 4,000 vehicles per day or greater. Centerline markings should also be placed on all rural arterials and collectors that have a traveled way of 18 feet or more in width and an ADT of 3,000 vehicles per day or greater. Centerline markings should also be placed on other traveled ways where an engineering study indicates such a need.
Lane line markings shall be used on all freeways and Interstate highways
Lane line markings should be used on all roadways that are intended to operate with two or more adjacent traffic lanes that have the same direction of travel, except as otherwise required for reversible lanes. Lane line markings should also be used at congested locations where the roadway will accommodate more traffic lanes with lane line markings than without the markings.
Edge line markings shall be placed on paved streets or highways with the following characteristics:
Edge line markings should be placed on paved streets or highways with the following characteristics:
More details on these methods can be found in report titled Methods for Maintaining Pavement Marking Retroreflectivity, which will be available at http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/roadway_dept/night_visib. That report should be reviewed prior to using these methods.
This is one of two different versions of a visual inspection method. In this method, a trained inspector views "calibrated pavement markings" prior to conducting the nighttime inspection. Calibrated pavement markings have known retroreflectivity levels at or above minimum levels. These pavement markings are set up where the inspector can view them in a manner similar to actual nighttime field inspections. The inspector uses the visual appearance of the calibrated pavement markings to establish the evaluation threshold for that night's inspection activities. The following list provides additional information on the use of this procedure:
This is the second visual inspection method, and is based on similar factors that were used in the research to develop the minimum retroreflectivity levels. It is similar to the visual inspection method described above in that nighttime inspections are conducted from a passenger vehicle at normal operating speeds with good weather conditions (free of rain or fog and with dry pavement markings) using low-beam headlamp illumination while minimizing interior vehicle lighting. The difference is that calibrated markings are not necessary and no special equipment is needed as long as the following factors are satisfied.
The inspector makes a judgment on whether roadway markings are sufficient to meet their driving needs.
In this method the pavement marking retroreflectivity is measured and directly compared to the minimum levels in Table 3A-1. The retroreflectivity measurements can either be made with handheld devices or mobile devices, as long as they are measured using the standard 30-meter geometry. Inspectors should follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to obtain reliable retroreflectivity readings, including periodic calibration of the equipment.
In this method, pavement markings are replaced before they reach the end of their service life, which is when a representative sample of similar markings that are monitored through measurement or visual nighttime inspection have degraded to the retroreflectivity levels in Table 3A-1. This method would include a system for tracking similar groups of pavement markings based on color, type of materials, and other characteristics such as traffic volume. The representative sample must have similar in-service characteristics, rather than being placed at locations such as a maintenance yard or shoulder where they would not be subjected to similar wear.
With this method, an agency replaces all of the pavement markings in an area, corridor, and/or of a given marking material type, at pre-selected specified time intervals based on the relevant expected service life (using levels in Table 3A-1). The replacement intervals are based on historical retroreflectivity data for specific roadways and types of marking material. The replacement intervals are based on when the shortest-life material in that group/area/corridor approaches the minimum retroreflectivity levels. This method typically requires that all of the designated pavement markings within a replacement area, or of the particular pavement markings type, be replaced, even if segments of markings were recently installed, following a resurfacing project, for instance.
Agencies can choose from the methods described on this page, combine them, or develop other methods based on engineering studies. It is important, however, that if an agency develops a different method, it must be based on an engineering study and must be based on the minimum levels in Table 3A-1.