Luminous white lines II continues my investigation as to why this obvious safety measure is not implemented on all roads. My assumption is that, if you can’t see where the lane lines are, your chances of causing an accident, and possibly killing yourself and others, rise exponentially.

     In my last blog on the subject, I reported that it’s a Federal requirement that retroreflective (read glass-beaded) paint be used on the center lines of interstate highways. However, it is not a requirement anywhere else. I also reported in the previous blog that interstate center lines are recessed ¼” in the surface.

     I am pleased to report that, this week, travelling along a State highway, I did notice, for the first time, that the white line dash marks were recessed in the surface.

     I resisted the temptation to stop, get out and walk to the center of this State highway to measure the ¼” depression, which was filled with white paint (probably not glass-beaded in this case) – not exactly a very bright idea. As a result, I had to observe the depression while driving at 65mph……also not a very bright idea!

     My conclusion from this slightly dangerous exercise was that the State authorities had only adopted the Federal regulation because it saved them money. Snow ploughs wouldn’t scrape off the paint because it was not on the surface. However, they didn’t adopt the part of the regulation about glass-beaded paint because that would have been more expensive. Result: it’s all about saving money rather than about public safety.

     Also this week, I found the eighty-two-page section of the U.S. Department of Transportation’ regulations that deals with road markings (MUTCD – Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices). I’m not joking, eighty-two pages. Fascinating reading, if you are so inclined…..or that bored. (If you’re really bored, the entire document is 347 pages long and can be found at www.mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov).

     In all those eighty-two pages, there are only two sentences that refer to the paint to be used for line markings. Those two sentences are:

 “Standard: 03 Markings that must be visible at night shall be retroreflective (whatever that means) unless ambient illumination assures that the markings are adequately visible. All markings on Interstate highways shall be retroreflective.”

     That’s why luminous white/yellow paint is not universal. The Feds gave local and state authorities the “out” of deciding for themselves what is appropriate ambient illumination. Translation: the local authorities can put up one street light every two miles and claim that is sufficient ambient illumination, and still be in compliance. I exaggerate, but you get the idea. Again, saving money over public safety!

     I have tried several times to contact the companies that supply this retroreflective paint without luck, at least to date. I will now ask several of the large insurance companies for their “take” on the situation. One of my readers suggested that Personal Injury lawyers might also be interested so I will include the in my investigation.

     Eventually, I will submit all the findings to local, state and Federal officials, newspapers, as well as the State Legislature and the U.S. Congress. It will be interesting to see what happens………if I live that long!!

     As I said in my last blog, it is something so obvious that we never think about it except, maybe, from a hospital bed. More to follow!

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