The National Academies

NCHRP 05-24 [RFP]

Guidelines for Vehicle and Equipment Color, Marking, and Lighting

Posted Date: 11/7/2017

  Project Data
Funds: $600,000
(Phase I shall be limited to $50,000)
Contract Time: 30 months
(Phase I—6 months, includes 2 months for NCHRP review and approval of the interim report; Phase II—24 months, includes 3 months for NCHRP review and for contractor's revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 6/1/2018 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Amir N. Hanna
   Phone: 202/334-1432
   Email: ahanna@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 12/21/2017
Fiscal Year: 2018

Roadway-operations equipment used by transportation agencies for construction, maintenance, incident response, and other similar activities generally operate on all types of roadways, during day and night hours, and under all weather conditions. To improve motorist and work-crew safety, equipment must be readily seen and recognized and, therefore, appropriate colors, retroreflective markings, and warning lights are provided on the equipment to alert motorists of potentially hazardous situations. Combinations of lights of different colors (e.g., amber, blue, and white) and other forms of warning lights (e.g., lighted bars, lighted "arrow sticks," strobe, LED, and alternating flashing), vehicle color, and retroreflective markings are used. However, there is a concern that this variety of color, retroreflective markings, and lighting on roadway-operations equipment and vehicles has evolved without adequate consideration of their effects on the awareness and responsiveness of motorists.
In 2008, NCHRP Project 13-02 developed Guidelines for the Selection and Application of Warning Lights on Roadway Operations Equipment (published as AASHTO Publication Code WL-1 and available as part of NCHRP Report 624). However, because of the significant technology changes and the apparent increased speeds, traffic volumes, and distracted drivers in recent years, there is a need to re-examine the many factors that influence the effectiveness of colors, retroreflective markings, and lighting applied to vehicles and equipment, and develop updated guidelines for use by transportation agency personnel in the procurement process, and thus enhance motorist awareness and safety.   
The objective of this research is to develop guidelines, for consideration and adoption by AASHTO, for the selection and application of color, retroreflective markings, and lighting to vehicle and equipment that will effectively identify vehicles and equipment, and communicate their activities to the motoring public, and thus enhance safety. This research is concerned with transportation-agency roadway-operations vehicles and equipment used for construction, maintenance, incident response, and other similar activities.
Accomplishment of the project objective(s) will require at least the following tasks.
The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.  Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research.
Task 1. Collect and review relevant literature, specifications and guidelines, research findings, current practices, and other information relative to the selection and application of color, retroreflective markings, and lighting to vehicle and equipment for the purpose of identifying vehicles and equipment, and communicating their activities within the roadway right-of-way to the motoring public.
Task 2.Based on the information gathered in Task 1, identify and discuss the factors influencing the design and selection and application of color, retroreflective markings, and lighting to vehicle and equipment. These factors would include, but not be limited to (1) vehicle and equipment color(s); (2) minimum and maximum lighting configurations (e.g., lighting color(s); flash pattern, flash rate, and light synchronization; light synchronization between multiple vehicles; and light size, type, intensity, quantity, and placement); (3) minimum and maximum conspicuity configurations (retro-reflective marking colors and patterns); (4) ambient lighting; (5) weather conditions; (6) interrelated effects of vehicle color, light color, combination of lighting systems, flash rate, and markings; (7) visibility from all approaches; (8) integration and interaction of warning lights on vehicle-attached or trailered attenuators, arrow boards, arrow panel, and message signs; and (9) visibility effects on adjacent personnel, vehicles, and equipment. Also, identify motorist response and other criteria used in the selection process.
Task 3. Assess the relevance and importance of the factors identified in Task 2 to the selection and application of an effective lighting system, color, and retroreflective markings, and develop a prioritized matrix of these factors. Also, perform gap analysis to identify those factors requiring further research and prepare a prioritized list of those factors recommended for consideration/investigation in Phase II.
Task 4. Prepare an updated, detailed work plan for Phase II that includes investigations for addressing the factors recommended in Task 3 and developing the desired guidelines.
Note: A research plan that provides details on the proposer's current thinking regarding the work anticipated in Phase II must be included in the proposal. The plan must provide a tentative outline of the anticipated guidelines and describe the proposed approach for validating the guidelines. The work proposed for Task 6 must be divided into subtasks, and proposers must describe in detail the work proposed in each subtask (e.g., type, number, and specific details of the proposed investigations). A review meeting that includes a presentation by the research team to the project panel should be scheduled during Task 6 to review the matrix of factors that will be proposed as part of the guidelines.
Task 5. Prepare an interim report that documents the research performed in Phase I and includes the updated work plan for Phase II. Following review of the interim report by the panel, the research team will meet with the project panel. Work on Phase II of the project will not begin until the interim report and the Phase II work plan are approved by the NCHRP.
Task 6. Execute the plan approved in Task 5. Based on the results of this work, develop and validate the guidelines for the selection and application of color, retroreflective markings, and lighting to vehicle and equipment for the purpose of identifying vehicles and equipment, and communicating their activities within the roadway right-of-way to the motoring public. The guidelines shall be prepared in a format that will facilitate consideration and adoption by AASHTO, and implementation by highway agencies. The guidelines should include the technical information necessary for developing lighting, marking, and color specifications; means for effectively communicating activity information to the motoring public, and a matrix to prioritize the relevant factors.
Task 7.  Submit a final deliverable that documents the entire research effort, and includes the guidelines as a standalone product. The final deliverable shall include an implementation plan for moving the results of this research into practice. 
Note: Following receipt of the draft final deliverable, the remaining 3 months shall be for NCHRP review and comment and for research agency preparation of the final deliverables.
A. Proposers must recognize that specific expertise is needed for the successful execution of the research and accomplishment of the project objective. Proposals must highlight the research team's experience and familiarity with lighting systems and markings used for roadway-operations equipment, photometry, and human factors.
B. Resumes of research team members must present relevant qualifications and be limited to no more than 2 pages for each member. The section on equipment and facilities (Item 8 in the proposal) shall describe relevant information and be limited to no more than 3 pages.
C. If the research approach includes human subject testing, proposers should be aware that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has its own Institutional Review Board (IRB) that must review and approve the results of the proposing agency’s IRB process. It should be assumed that this step will require several weeks.
D. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the brochure, "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals" (http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/crp/docs/ProposalPrep.pdf). Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.
E. The NCHRP is a practical, applied research program that produces implementable products addressing problems faced by transportation practitioners and managers. The benefits of NCHRP research are realized only when the results are implemented in state DOTs and other agencies. Implementation of the research product must be considered throughout the process, from problem statement development to research contract and beyond completion of the research. Item 4(c), "Anticipated Research Results," must include the following: (a) the "product" expected from the research, (b) the audience or "market" for this product, (c) a realistic assessment of impediments to successful implementation, and (d) the institutions and individuals who might take leadership in deploying the research product. The project panel will develop and maintain an implementation plan throughout the life of the project. The research team will be expected to provide input to an implementation team consisting of panel members, AASHTO committee members, the NCHRP Implementation Coordinator, and others in order to meet the goals of NCHRP Active Implementation: Moving Research into Practice, available at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP_ActiveImplementation.pdf.
F. Item 5 in the proposal, "Qualifications of the Research Team," must include a section labeled "Disclosure." Information relevant to the NCHRP's need to ensure objectivity and to be aware of possible sources of significant financial or organizational conflict of interest in conducting the research must be presented in this section of the proposal. For example, under certain conditions, ownership of the proposing agency, other organizational relationships, or proprietary rights and interests could be perceived as jeopardizing an objective approach to the research effort, and proposers are asked to disclose any such circumstances and to explain how they will be accounted for in this study. If there are no issues related to objectivity, this should be stated.
G. Proposals are evaluated by the NCHRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively very knowledgeable in the problem area. Selection of an agency is made by the project panel considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) the proposer's plan for participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises--small firms owned and controlled by minorities or women; and (6) the adequacy of the facilities.
Note: The proposer's plan for participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 12 of the proposal.
H. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.

Proposals (15 single-bound copies) are due not later than 4:30 p.m. on 12/21/2017.

This is a firm deadline, and extensions are not granted. In order to be considered for award, all copies of the agency's proposal accompanied by the executed, unmodified Liability Statement must be in our offices not later than the deadline shown, or the proposal will be rejected. Proposers may choose any carrier or delivery service for their proposals. However, proposers assume the risk of proposal rejection if the carrier or delivery service does not deliver all the required documents by the deadline.

Delivery Address:

ATTN: Christopher J. Hedges
Director, Cooperative Research Programs
Transportation Research Board
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Liability Statement

The signature of an authorized representative of the proposing agency is required on the unaltered liability statement in order for the NCHRP to accept the agency's proposal for consideration. Proposals submitted without this executed and unaltered statement by the proposal deadline will be summarily rejected. An executed, unaltered statement indicates the agency's intent and ability to execute a contract that includes the provisions in the statement.

Here is a printable version of the Liability Statement (pdf). A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is available at http://www.adobe.com.

General Notes

1. According to the provisions of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 21, which relates to nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, all parties are hereby notified that the contract entered into pursuant to this announcement will be awarded without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.

2. The essential features required in a proposal for research are detailed in the current brochure entitled "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals" (updated August 2016). Proposals must be prepared according to this document, and attention is directed specifically to Section V for mandatory requirements. Proposals that do not conform with these requirements will be rejected. This brochure is available here.

3. The total funds available are made known in the project statement, and line items of the budget are examined to determine the reasonableness of the allocation of funds to the various tasks. If the proposed total cost exceeds the funds available, the proposal is rejected.

4. All proposals become the property of the Transportation Research Board. Final disposition will be made according to the policies thereof, including the right to reject all proposals.


Potential proposers should understand clearly that the research project described herein is tentative. The final content of the program depends on the level of funding made available through States' agreements for financial support of the NCHRP. Nevertheless, to be prepared to execute research contracts as soon as possible after sponsors' approvals, the NCHRP is assuming that the tentative program will become official in its entirety and is proceeding with requests for proposals and selections of research agencies.

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