Determining the Effectiveness of Pavement Marking Materials

Report No: 01-R9

Published in 2001

About the report:

The purpose of this research was to determine the safety, motorist opinion, and cost-effectiveness of pavement marking materials used by the Virginia Department of Transportation and to develop guidelines, where possible, as to when each type of material should be used. Interstate and primary road segments that had been remarked with a different type of pavement marking material were identified to perform a before-and-after accident analysis. When possible, segments that were remarked using the same pavement marking material were included to provide comparison sections. The number of sites and accident count data were insufficient to support a finding that the use of a particular pavement marking material reduces the number of target accidents. The results of a motorist survey indicated that the participating drivers were more satisfied with pavement markings with higher retroreflectivity values than those with lower values. Participating drivers over the age of 65 were generally less satisfied with the brightness of the pavement markings than were participating drivers under the age of 65. Using a large contract for paint was the most cost-effective for two-lane roads under most volume conditions and four- and six-lane low-volume roads. Using polyurea and a large contract for paint were the most cost-effective for high-volume two- and four-lane roads. Polyurea and waffle tape were the more cost-effective durable markings for high-volume six-lane roads. Changes in the use of pavement markings were recommended. Specifically, the Virginia Department of Transportation should (1) consider increasing the use of large paint contracts and minimizing its use of small paint contracts when possible; (2) consider a performance-based specification for durable markings; (3) continue consideration of a holistic approach for pavement management and markings, and (4) re-evaluate its pavement marking policy and include the recommendations of this study.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Last updated: December 7, 2023

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