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Nighttime Visibility


Methods for Maintaining Pavement Marking Retroreflectivity


Is a retroreflectometer required to meet the new MUTCD requirements?  Not for all methods, although there are methods that do require the use of a retroreflectometer.  There are alternatives to purchasing retroreflectometers, however; for instance, retroreflectometers are available for loan through some LTAP centers and are also available for rent from the manufacturers.

Is a computer inventory is required?  No inventory is required.  However, there are many benefits of having an inventory as described in the report.

Must you have a 60 year old for any nighttime inspection?  There are two different visual nighttime inspection methods that can be used.  The procedure that FHWA calls "consistent parameters" does require an inspector to be at least 60 years of age.  The other visual nighttime inspection method (calibrated pavement markings) does not have criteria on the age of the inspector.

Can I use any vehicle for the nighttime inspection methods?  Yes. There is much less vehicle size sensitivity related to pavement marking brightness compared to sign brightness. When using the consistent parameters method, a sedan is preferred, since this most closely matches the research parameters. It is less critical for the calibrated inspection method, because the inspector calibrates his/her eyes in the same vehicle being used during the inspection.

Are annual inspections frequent enough? Typically yes, although it may depend on the amount of traffic. In general, it is good practice to inspect markings as soon as practical in the late winter or early spring so that a priority can be given to markings that need to be refurbished.

What if I cannot restore all markings according to the replacement schedule? The MUTCD requires the use of "a method designed to maintain retroreflectivity at or above…" If your implementation of the maintenance method is designed to maintain your markings above the minimum values, you would be considered to be in compliance with the standard. Unanticipated events may occur that cause delays in reapplication. If unanticipated events occur, compliance with the standard is still considered to be achieved as long as a reasonable course of action is taken to restore such markings in a timely manner (See paragraph 6 of MUTCD Section 3A.03)

How detailed should my documentation be? The FHWA does not require agencies to submit documentation. An agency may choose to document their method and maintenance activities for their own purposes, such as scheduling, budgeting resources, defense against litigation, etc

Am I allowed to use resources or take actions outside my written or documented method and still be considered in compliance? An agency is responsible for maintaining pavement markings regardless of whether or not the method is documented. While detailed documentation is useful for business practices and consistency, it is unlikely to address every event or circumstance. For example, an agency would be prudent to schedule reapplication of markings on sections of abnormal wear that are discovered during inspections or routine maintenance, even if that is not part of their written procedure or typical practice.

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Page last modified on February 1, 2017
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