U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration


eSubscribe Envelope

FHWA Home / Safety / Roadway Departure / Implementation Tools - Sign Retroreflectivity

Implementation Tools - Sign Retroreflectivity

Adequately maintained retroreflective signs improve highway safety and prevent roadway departure crashes by bouncing light from vehicle headlights back toward the vehicle and the driver's eyes, making the signs appear brighter and easier to see and read. Because the retroreflective properties of traffic control devices deteriorate over time, highway agencies need to actively manage the maintenance of signs in order to ensure that they are clearly visible at night.

Implementation Tools

  • Sign Retroreflectivity Requirements: An Overview (2013 Revision)
    This trifold provides basic information on the sign retroreflectivity requirements in the MUTCD.  It is intended to be printed double-sided and folded in thirds.  There is a blank space so that organizations and companies can print and send it as a mailer.  [Publication No. FHWA-SA-08-001(Revised 2013)] No hard copies available from FHWA.

  • NCHRP Synthesis 431: Practices to Manage Traffic Sign Retroreflectivity
    This synthesis contains example practices to illustrate how different types of transportation agencies might meet MUTCD retroreflectivity requirements for traffic signs.  It includes results of a broad survey of agencies regarding their practices; case studies for a large and a small city, a county and a State DOT; and  effective practices.

  • Sheeting ID Guide
    FHWA developed this updated table in cooperation with ATSSA to assist practitioners in selecting retroreflective sheeting materials. The table provides information about the typical uses of various retroreflective sheeting materials, by ASTM and AASHTO type, manufacturer, brand name and series number. [Publication No. FHWA-SA-14-022] No hard copies available from FHWA.

  • PowerPoint Presentation: Minimum Sign Retroreflectivity Requirements:
    A 15-minute Powerpoint presentation providing an overview of the sign retroreflectivity requirements.

  • Sign Retroreflectivity Methods Table
    This chart shows the fundamental equipment needs, inspector requirements, and time demands for each of the sign retroreflectivity methods listed in the MUTCD.

  • Explanation of MUTCD Table 2A-3
    This detailed narration helps users understand how to determine the minimum maintained retroreflectivity level for a traffic sign based on the sheeting type and sign color.  There are several examples to explain the proper use of this table.

  • Technical Contacts
    A number of national and state-based organizations are knowledgeable about sign retroreflectivity and the MUTCD. They can provide assistance to local, tribal and federal land management agencies.

  • Sample Forms and Letters
    This site provides sign inspection sample forms and sample letters to request information or funding from elected officials, state DOTs or federal land management agencies.

NOTE: Revisions to reflect the May 2012 final rule that changed the MUTCD compliance date requirements have not yet been made to this document and should be kept in mind while viewing the document.

For hard copies of documents with publication numbers, please send a request to report.center@dot.gov and include the publication number and title, along with the number of copies and your mailing address and phone number. Requests will be filled based on availability.

Page last modified on September 3, 2015.
Safe Roads for a Safer Future - Investment in roadway safety saves lives
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000