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Reflective Pavement Marking Standards

Updated on July 8, 2020
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Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, an industrial engineer, a mother of two, and a published sci-fi and horror author.

ASTM International has developed standards for both pavement marking materials and pavement marking components. ASTM standards describe how retroreflective materials should work, the standards they must meet and how pavement markers are tested before they literally hit the road.

Retroreflective pavement markers indicate where the road is located, such as in turns like this one.
Retroreflective pavement markers indicate where the road is located, such as in turns like this one. | Source

Reflective Material Standards

ASTM standard D6628-03 outlines the allowed colors for pavement marking materials. This standard applies to both painted pavement markings and reflective markers.

ASTM D4505-05 specifies the necessary qualities of materials used in marking tape used on reflective pavement markers.

ASTM standard D6359 gives the minimum level of retro-reflectance or the degree of returned light without scattering for new pavement markings. This standard applies to new pavement reflectors so that governments didn't have to immediately replace everything that was already in place on roads.

ASTM standard E808-01 explains the formal definitions and descriptions of retro-reflection using the CIE (goniometer) system.

Retro-Reflective Marker Testing Standards

ASTM E1710-11 is the standard for measuring pavement marking materials with a retroreflecto-meter. This standard primarily applies to traffic stripes and road symbols made from paint containing reflective beads. ASTM D4061 describes how horizontal reflective coatings are to be tested.

ASTM E809-08 explains the ASTM practices for measuring the photometric characteristics of retroreflectors such as the percentage of light reflected back and the amount of light that is scattered by the retroreflectors.

ASTM E810 describes how to measure the coefficient of retroreflective sheeting such as that used in permanent signs and curb markers.

ASTM D7585 describes how to evaluate reflective pavement markings with hand operated instruments. ASTM D7585 requires a clean and dry set of markings prior to the test. For example, the reflective markers should not have dirt or mud on them when testing is performed. They can be cleaned with water and soap prior to the testing, though testing must wait until it is dry. ASTM D7585 replaced the earlier standard ASTM D6359-99.

ASTM E1709-09 outlines how retroreflective signs should be measured using a portable retroreflectometer. ASTM E2301-03 is used to measure the daytime reflective properties of retroreflective materials.

What ASTM Standards for Road Markers Do Not Mandate

ASTM does not determine how bright light reflected by retro-reflective pavement markers must be. ASTM leaves that to local and state governments. ASTM standards don't mandate where retro-reflective markers must be placed on objects like mailboxes or personal driveways.


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