U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations
|This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information|
Publication Number: FHWA-RD-03-082
Date: December 2003
Minimum Retroreflectivity Levels for Overhead Guide Signs and Street-Name Signs
PDF Version (837 KB)
PDF files can be viewed with the Acrobat® Reader®
To develop MR recommendations, the researchers developed a computational model that considers the relationships between the headlamps (source), sign (target), and the geometric relationship between these and the driver (receptor). The TTI model is a combination of ideas from other models such as CARTS and Exact Roadway Geometry Output (ERGO), with refinements to address shortcomings in the previously developed models. The elements (source, target, receptor, and vehicle) of the model were addressed in the following manner:
Up to this point, the TTI model performs similarly to ERGO. However, after ERGO outputs sign luminance, its usefulness in terms of establishing MR levels has ended. This is where the TTI model expands the current state-of-the-art by being able to determine the retroreflectivity needed to provide a user-defined threshold luminance.
Minimum RA = MR at standard measurement geometry ( = 0.2°, = -4.0°) needed to produce assumed threshold luminance, cd/lx/m2
New RA,SG = Averaged retroreflectivity of new sheeting at standard geometry, cd/lx/m2
Demand RA,NSG = Retroreflectivity needed to produce the minimum luminance at the nonstandard geometry (backcalculated and determined for each scenario), cd/lx/m2
Supply RA,NSG = Retroreflectivity of new sheeting at nonstandard geometry (determined for each scenario), cd/lx/m2
If the Demand RA,NSG > New RA,NSG, then the material cannot provide the threshold luminance for the given scenario. As shown below, the Demand RA,NSG is determined from the illuminance falling on the sign, the viewing geometry, and the assumed threshold luminance needed for legibility.
The Supply RA,NSG is found through a lookup table for each type of material. Nu is the viewing angle for the sign, using the driver as the observation point. The lookup tables contain almost 200,000 retroreflectivity values, depending on the applications system's four angles that are used to fully describe the performance of the retroreflective sheeting.
Several assumptions are associated with this methodology. For instance, this methodology assumes that the retroreflective characteristics for each type of sheeting degrade uniformly as the sheeting weathers. Figure 2 shows an illustrative example of this concept. The concept of uniform degradation for beaded materials (i.e., types I, II, and III) is a reasonable assumption. However, for microprismatic sheeting (i.e., types VII, VIII, and IX), the researchers acknowledge that this assumption has not been validated. For these microprismatic materials, the weathering may cause the microprisms to change shape, which may produce different retroreflectivity characteristics. Some sheeting may actually get brighter with age, but only to a point, and even then, the change may not be consistent along the full dynamic range. However, no data currently exist in the public domain that can be used to develop weathered curves that illustrate how microprismatic sheeting characteristics change over time. Efforts are currently underway at FHWA to measure the retroreflectivity of weathered microprismatic sheeting to determine the validity of this assumption and to make changes if needed.
Figure 2. Weathering Degradation of Retroreflective Sheeting
The modeling methodology also assumes that the retroreflectivity of new sheeting at the standard measurement geometry can be generalized with one value per ASTM type of material (even though there are several manufacturers of certain types of sheeting). The values shown in table 14 were determined by averaging the retroreflectivity values for each type of material at = 0.2°, = -4.0°, = +180° to -180° in 15° intervals and = +180° to -180° in 15° intervals. The sheeting data from the ERGO model were combined with measurements made by the researchers to develop the values shown in table 14.
A final modeling assumption is that the photometric relationships used in the model provide accurate estimates of the illuminance falling on a sign and the returned luminance directed toward the driver's eyes. Real-world factors such as pavement glare and ambient lighting are not considered in the model, or in any other available model. However, atmospheric and windshield transmissivity are considered.
Table 14. Average RA of New White Sheeting