Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ask Caltrans: Why are the Lane Stripes Hard to See?

Occasionally, we’ll get a call or email from a motorist who tells us that the lane stripes on a particular stretch of freeway are hard to see. There are a number of factors that may contribute to reduced striping visibility, such as sun glare, profile of the roadway, and wear and tear due to heavy traffic volumes. Plus, white striping on a light-colored cement road doesn’t exactly represent a huge chromatic contrast, but this color scheme is required by the Federal Highway Administration. (If you're really curious about striping color, you can read all about it in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways.)

Additionally, temporary striping, which is typically applied to roadways undergoing construction, might be slightly less visible than permanent striping.

Pavement markings are an important safety feature because they provide guidance to motorists about where they need to be. When visibility becomes an issue, Caltrans may add black lines between the white lines to help the striping stand out more and reflective pavement markers. Look for this strategy to be implemented on I-5 in the Newhall Pass in the next week or two. Caltrans recently completed the new I-5/SR-14 carpool lane connector in the area, and it’s now time to touch up the striping.