SIGN COMPARISON PANEL KIT
Signs are a critical part of our roadways. They assign right-of-way at intersections, give rules such as speed limits, and warn of hazards; in short, signs help drivers safely navigate our roads and streets. However, signs must be seen in order to accomplish their designated functions.
The 2009 edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), defines the standards for installing and maintaining traffic control devices on roadways open to public travel. Retroreflectivity (the sign’s ability to return a portion of the light from the headlamp back to the driver) is one of several factors associated with maintaining nighttime sign visibility. Regulatory warning and guide signs are required to be retroreflective to show the same shape and color both day and night. The MUTCD requires that each public agency use an assessment or management method designed to maintain sign retroreflectivity at or above minimum values.
There are several maintenance options available, including using sign life, using a trained older inspector in a vehicle, measuring every sign with a retroreflectometer (a device that measures retroreflectivity), or conducting nighttime inspection using comparison panels.
Comparison panels are components of sign sheeting that are at or near the MUTCD minimum required retroreflectivity levels. To use this process, an inspector drives your roads at night.
When a marginal sign is identified, the driver stops the vehicle on the side of the road to classify the sign’s retroreflectivity as good, marginal, or questionable. The inspector then attaches the comparison panel to the sign. The inspector walks back from the sign 15 to 25 feet and shines a flashlight on the sign to determine if the sign is brighter or less bright than the panel. If the sign is less bright, it is scheduled for replacement.
To help local agencies jump start their sign retroreflectivity program, the WV LTAP has developed comparison sign panel kits that are available free of charge to municipal agencies (one per municipality). These kits include green, white, yellow, red, orange, and fluorescent yellow-green sign sheeting in 3x6 inch panels. The panels were produced based on the processes outlined by the Cornell Local Roads Program.
To find out more about these panels, including instructions for proper use, click here. To obtain a set of these panels for your local agency, contact Kim Carr at 304-293-9924 or email Kim.Carr@mail.wvu.edu.