The National Academies

NCHRP IDEA 20-30/IDEA 228 [Completed (IDEA)]

A Retroreflective Road Lane Marking Tape 1,000X Brighter Than Existing Technology

  Project Data
Funds: $129,267
Staff Responsibility: Inam Jawed
Research Agency: Mark O’Neill, LLC, Fort Worth, Texas
Principal Investigator: Mark O’Neill
Fiscal Year: 2020

Most conventional traffic stripes still use a century-old technology of glass beads dropped into paint to provide a modest level of retroreflectivity under dry conditions which is spoiled by wet conditions. This    project developed and demonstrated for the first time an unprecedented ultra-bright retroreflectivity of a totally road lane marking tape using prismatic surfaces on a transparent polymer film. Brighter traffic stripes, especially on dark wet roads, will not only save many lives but also will offer significant environmental and health benefits by eliminating the use of glass or ceramic beads in traffic stripes. To produce prototype stripes, diamond-turned tooling was procured to make the top prismatic surface, top surface prismatic parts were made and laminated to commercially available cube corner retroreflective sheeting. The prototypes were tested in a certified laboratory. The test results verified unprecedented retroreflectivity several hundred times higher than that for conventional traffic stripes. Concepts were also developed for making later production traffic stripes more robust against traffic and weather damage. Two early prototypes were installed on roadways in Texas and North Carolina and monitored several weeks. . The North Carolina site experienced several snowfall and snow plow treatments. Spot measurement with a handheld retroreflectometer showed a retroreflectivity above 1,000 mcd/sq.m.-lux.  A roadmap to complete the development and commercialization of this new stripe technology was developed. Cost/ benefit cost analyses indicate that the new traffic stripe would have a payback period of just a few months based on USDOT crash reduction factor (CRF) data and statistical value of saved human lives.

The final report is available.

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