Can road signs be too reflective?

Q: I know I’m getting old and it’s hard to drive at night, but the new road signs are so reflective they’re blinding at night. The reflective quality is so high that the reflection is as strong as oncoming headlights. Have the signs become brighter, or is it just me? And is there a safety limit to how reflective signs can/should be?

A: It’s not just you — the state Department of Transportation has installed signs with increased reflectivity to make them more visible and brighter from further away at night and in bad weather, according to the official. public information Bryan Viggiani.

Although a quarter of trips take place at night, about half of road deaths occur after dark, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

The Highway Authority has developed and enforces minimum standards for sign retroreflectivity, that is, the degree to which signs reflect light back to drivers. Some forms of reflection scatter light sending it in different directions from where it came from, but retroreflectors redirect light in the same direction, making them especially useful for traffic signs because they reflect more light to the driver, making them appear brighter.

However, there is currently no maximum standard for retroreflectivity. The Federal Highway Administration encourages agencies to use their best engineering judgment when installing retroreflective signs and to consider issues such as visibility, readability and durability as well as other safety concerns. , according to a spokesperson.

A 2014 study by Texas A&M’s Transportation Institute investigated whether signs could be so shiny that they reduced readability and/or glare to the point of being a safety concern. The study focused on signs on rural roads, where there is no other roadside lighting that could reduce the impact of glare. He found evidence that shoulder-mounted panels can be too bright. There was no measured reduction in visibility, but there was a reduction in the overall ability to detect potentially dangerous objects as the signs became more reflective.

Traffic cones in Glens Falls: Wondering about the cones on Glen Street, Warren Street, Ridge and South Streets, and Hudson Avenue in Glens Falls? The city is installing 150 parking sensors under downtown streets as a precursor to developing a municipal parking plan.

Carman Road, Guilderland: Carman Road (Route 146) will be closed at the intersection with Lydius Street from September 30 at 8 p.m. to October 3 at 6 a.m. West Lydius Street is closed between Carman Road and Rosendale Way also until October 3 at 6 a.m. The closures are part of the state Department of Transportation’s Carman Road Roundabout project. Detours will be posted.

Have a question about transportation in the Capital Region? Email [email protected] and include your name, city and phone number or tweet @abigail_rubel.

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