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Why You Need Reflective Pavement Markers

February 16, 2018

Several types of reflective pavement markers (RPMs) exist to make streets safer and brighter, both day and night. The markers, which are often made of plastic, ceramic or various types of colored marking tape, help make it easier for drivers to see divided lanes on highways. Small rectangular reflectors with 3 inch diameters are designed to be visible at night or in harsh weather. Here are reasons why pavement markers are needed on certain roads.

Types of Reflective Pavement Markers

  • commercial road studs with reflector stands
  • snow plowable raised pavement markers
  • aluminum solar road studs
  • ceramic road reflectors
  • chip seal reflective markers
  • diamond reflector speed bumps

The main purpose of RPMs is to help drivers see the roadway better, especially during the winter. RPMs come in various shapes including squares and circles. Commercial markers are usually red, white, orange, or yellow but can sometimes be blue or green. While yellow markers are often used on center lines, white markers usually help separate lanes for traffic moving in the same direction.

Blue markers are usually placed on the center or side of the road and can indicate a nearby fire hydrant, shoulder, or emergency entrance for fire engines. Green markers are used for a variety of purposes, such as roads surrounding gated communities or places where utility vehicles are used. Red, which sometimes indicates a road closure, and green markers are commonly found on private roads.

The earliest RPMs were called “Cat’s eyes” and appeared in the UK and US in the 1930s. Botts’ dots are the bumps introduced on California highways in the 1960s, although they don’t always use reflectors. By the 1980s RPMs were widely used for the following reasons besides making roads safer:

  • economical
  • easy to manufacture
  • high quality optical performance
  • ability to resist roadway chemicals and traffic impact
  • can be used in any type of weather

Temporary vs Permanent Markers

Some markers are only meant to last short-term, such as temporary overlay markers on new asphalt. Delineators are raised pylons with reflective stripes that can be used as temporary markers. They are useful for temporary lane closures since they can be easily moved. Smaller pavement markers with adhesive pads can be easily installed or removed on asphalt, making them ideal for temporary work zones.

Raised RPMs are the solution for more permanent markers. An aluminum round orange reflector with a 3 inch diameter can last many years. The key is that they provide high visibility and brightness, which is important for older drivers whose vision has declined. Since RPMs can be seen from far away, they give drivers plenty of preview time to make adjustments.

Reflective pavement markers are being adopted at the community level to help keep neighborhood roads safe. The reflectors help save lives, especially during rainy or slippery conditions. According to the Federal Highway Administration, there is no current standard for minimum RPM reflectivity. But each community should do its own study to determine what works best locally, based on weather and visibility factors such as ambient lighting and headlight glare.

Some of the most modern RPMs are integrated with solar-powered LEDs that are water-resistant and provide visibility for over a half mile. These RPMs are made of aluminum and have a life-span up to five years.

To learn more about ways that Zumar can help your roadways or signage, contact us for a Free Quote.

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