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Report
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Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-07-059
Date: October 2007

Updates to Research on Recommended Minimum Levels for Pavement Marking Retroreflectivity to Meet Driver Night Visibility Needs

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U.S. Department of Transportation

Federal Highway Administration

Research, Development, and Technology

Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center

6300 Georgetown Pike

McLean, VA 22101-2296

View Table of Contents

View List of Figures

View List of Tables


FOREWORD

In 1992, the Congress directed the Secretary of Transportation to revise the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices to include a standard for minimum levels of retroreflectivity that must be maintained for pavement markings. While previous research has been undertaken to recommend minimum pavement marking retroreflectivity levels, the need existed to update the earlier research in light of changes in roadway user characteristics, vehicle preferences, headlamp performance, and available research tools. Based on a newer, more powerful analytical tool, the following document provides updated recommended minimum levels for pavement marking retroreflectivity to meet driver night visibility needs.

This report will be of interest to State and local agencies with responsibility for pavement marking and people involved in pavement marking maintenance.

Michael F. Trentacoste
Director, Office of SafetyResearch and Development

Notice

This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

TECHNICAL REPORT DOCUMENTATION

1. Report No.
FHWA-HRT-07-059

2. Government Accession No.

3. Recipient’s Catalog No.

4. Title and Subtitle
Updates to Research on Recommended Minimum Levels for Pavement Marking Retroreflectivity to Meet Driver Night Visibility Needs

5. Report Date
October 2007

6. Performing Organization Code

7. Author(s)
Chris Debaillon and Paul Carlson (TTI)
Yefei He, Tom Schnell and Fuat Aktan (OPL)

8. Performing Organization Report No.

9. Performing Organization Name and Address
Operator Performance Laboratory
Center for Computer Aided Design
The University of Iowa
Iowa City , IA 52242
and
Texas Transportation Institute
Texas A&M University System
3135 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843

10. Work Unit No.

11. Contract or Grant No.

12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address
Office of Safety R & D
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101-2296

13. Type of Report and Period Covered
Final Report

14. Sponsoring Agency Code

15. Supplementary Notes
Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR): Carl K. Andersen, and Abdul Z. Zineddin, Ph.D.

16. Abstract
This study was aimed at completing the research to develop and scrutinize minimum levels for pavement marking retroreflectivity to meet nighttime driving needs. A previous study carried out in the 1990s was based on the CARVE model developed at Ohio University and resulted in a table of minimum levels of pavement marking retroreflectiviy values. Since then, a newer, more powerful analytical tool, Tarvip, which was developed at the Operator Performance Lab of the University of Iowa, overcomes a lot of limitations of the CARVE model and uses updated data that reflect the current states of vehicles and roadways in the United States.

In this study, the Pavement Marking Visibility Module of the Tarvip model was validated by comparing field data from various studies to prediction results under similar conditions from Tarvip. Next, a comprehensive survey on the factors that affect pavement marking visibility and minimum R L levels was performed, with key factors identified, including pavement marking configuration, pavement surface type, vehicle speed, vehicle type, and presence of RRPMs. From these key factors, a methodology of using Tarvip to do a sensitivity analysis on factors modeled in it was developed. The plan was executed, and resulting R L values under typical conditions on United States roadways formed the basis of new recommendations. Finally, limitations of the recommendations were analyzed, and a plan for future research was presented.

17. Key Words
CARVE, Detection Distance, Illuminance, Night, Pavement marking, Pavement Surface, Retroreflectivity, RRPM, TARVIP, Visibility

18. Distribution Statement
No restrictions.

19. Security Classification (of this report)
Unclassified

20. Security Classification (of this page)
Unclassified

21. No. of Pages
46

22. Price

Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed page authorized


SI* (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors


Table of Contents

  1. LITERATURE REVIEW

    2.1. Minimum Pavement Marking Retroreflectivity Proposals

    2.2. Minimum Pavement Marking Retroreflectivity Research

    2.3. Key Factors Affecting Pavement Marking Visibility

           2.3.1. Pavement Marking Retroreflectivity

           2.3.2. Pavement Surface Material

           2.3.3. Vehicle Type

           2.3.4. Vehicle Headlamps

           2.3.5. Overhead Lighting

           2.3.6. Edge Line Presence

           2.3.7. Wider Longitudinal Markings

           2.3.8. RRPM Presence

           2.3.9. Driver Age

           2.3.10. Preview Time

           2.3.11. Summary of Key Factors

  2. RESULTS

  3. RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS

  4. LIMITATIONS

  5. FUTURE RESEARCH NEEDS

      REFERENCES


List of Figures

Figure 1. Bar graph. Detection distance versus pavement marking retroreflectivity.

Figure 2. Bar graph. Saturated condition visibility distance versus marking type and vehicle type.

Figure 3. Bar graph. Average skip line detection distance versus vehicle type.

Figure 4. Screen shot. Plot of iso-lux curves on road surface (TARVIP screen shot).

Figure 5. Scatter diagram. Detection distance versus driver age—Structured tape.

Figure 6. Scatter diagram. Detection distance versus driver age—Thermoplastic.

Figure 7. Scatter diagram. Detection distance versus driver age—Standard tape.

Figure 8. Bar graph/line graph. Maximum speed limits in U.S. states and associated VMT.


List of Tables

Table 1. FWHA research recommendations for minimum pavement marking retroreflectivity.

Table 2. Zwahlen’s recommended minimum RL values.

Table 3. Workshop-proposed speed-based minimum pavement marking retroreflectivity values.

Table 4. Workshop-proposed classification-based minimum pavement marking retroreflectivity values.

Table 5. ATSSA recommended minimum RL values.

Table 6. Headlamp illuminance along edge lines and center lines.

Table 7. Summary of key factors affecting pavement marking visibility.

Table 8. Other factors affecting pavement marking visibility.

Table 9. Minimum retroreflectivity levels in [mcd/m^2/lx].

Table 10. Required RL values for TARVIP scenarios with varying preview time in [mcd/m^2/lx].

Table 11. Recommended minimum RL values in [mcd/m2/lux].

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