MUTCD Minimum Reflectivity Standards for Retro Reflective Sheeting / Signs

The chart below shows the minimum requirements for retro reflective sheeting and tape for signs and applications that are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The chart can also be used as a guideline for exempt applications. The deadlines for compliance are as follows:

  • Assess the signs on their roads and develop a replacement plan within four years of the final ruling. (January 22, 2012)
  • Replace non-compliant warning and regulatory signs within seven years of the final ruling. (January 22, 2015)
  • Replace guidance and street name signs within ten years of the final ruling. (January 22, 2018)

The summary after the chart will explain what the chart means for different types of signs.


On the left hand side of the chart you will find the colors used for different signs.  At the top you find the type of reflective tape required and to the right are the overhead and ground mounted categories (additional criteria).   To use the chart first determine whether your sign is an overhead or a ground mounted sign.  Most are ground mounted.   Then determine the colors that will be used on the left.  Then go to the right until you find the sheeting that meets the minimum.  As you can see, for yellow and orange background signs a type 2 sheeting is required.  For red and white background signs a type 1 is all that is needed. Also, when the chart says black it means a “non reflective” black.  When there is an asterisk * after a color/type that means it cannot be used for that type of sign.

When a color/type has a > and then a number next to it that means that the sheeting must exceed the number in reflectivity measured in cd/lx/m2. (candelas)  Many people call this the candlepower of the sheeting or tape. To see charts on the reflectivity of the different types of reflective sheeting click here.

The minimum contrast ratio is also important.  This simply means that the candlepower or reflectivity of one color must exceed the other by a certain factor.  For example, the white stop on a stop sign must be 3 times brighter than the red.  If you used the same type of material for both color this contrast is usually achieved automatically.  If you used a prismatic red background and an engineer grade white then you may have some problems with this ratio.

Basically, for ground mounted signs (on a pole), you are always safe using a type 2 material or better. For black on white or white on red signs (speed limit or stop sign) a type 1 engineer grade film is acceptable.  (white engineer grade is about 75 candlepower) For overhead signs like what you would see over an interstate you are required to use a type 3 or better prismatic sheeting.

As you can see, since ground/pole mounted signs make up the bulk of all signs, type 1 and 2 sheeting are the most needed.  This is not expected to change for quite a while.  The type 1 and 2 films are very affordable.  The prismatic films are much more expensive.   Since prismatic films are only required on overhead signs the new regulations do not have to substantially increase your sign budget.  The main thrust of the new law is to require cities, counties and states to have a plan for maintaining signs to the minimum level of reflectivity.

The following is a quote from the MUTCD manual showing the options for managing sign reflectivity.

Section 2A.08 Maintaining Minimum Retroreflectivity
01 Retroreflectivity is one of several factors associated with maintaining nighttime sign visibility (see Section 2A.22).
02 Public agencies or officials having jurisdiction shall use an assessment or management method that is designed to maintain sign retroreflectivity at or above the minimum levels in Table 2A-3.
03 Compliance with the Standard in Paragraph 2 is achieved by having a method in place and using the method to maintain the minimum levels established in Table 2A-3. Provided that an assessment or management method is being used, an agency or official having jurisdiction would be in compliance with the Standard in Paragraph 2 even if there are some individual signs that do not meet the minimum retroreflectivity levels at a particular point in time.
04 Except for those signs specifically identified in Paragraph 6, one or more of the following assessment or management methods should be used to maintain sign retroreflectivity:
A. Visual Nighttime Inspection—The retroreflectivity of an existing sign is assessed by a trained sign inspector conducting a visual inspection from a moving vehicle during nighttime conditions. Signs that are visually identified by the inspector to have retroreflectivity below the minimum levels should be replaced.
B. Measured Sign Retroreflectivity—Sign retroreflectivity is measured using a retroreflectometer. Signs with retroreflectivity below the minimum levels should be replaced.
C. Expected Sign Life—When signs are installed, the installation date is labeled or recorded so that the age of a sign is known. The age of the sign is compared to the expected sign life. The expected sign life is based on the experience of sign retroreflectivity degradation in a geographic area compared to the minimum levels. Signs older than the expected life should be replaced.
D. Blanket Replacement—All signs in an area/corridor, or of a given type, should be replaced at specifiedintervals. This eliminates the need to assess retroreflectivity or track the life of individual signs. The replacement interval is based on the expected sign life, compared to the minimum levels, for the shortest-life material used on the affected signs.

Reflectivity Specifications on the Different Types of Reflective Sheeting

There are several types of reflective sheeting.  Engineer grade is the most common and is known as a type 1 film.  Super engineer grade is a type 2.  High intensity is the brightest glass bead film and is a type 3.  The first prismatic film is a type 5.  The brightest film is a type 8 and is often called crystal or diamond grade.  We have charts on each of the films below.  Exact intensities will vary by manufacturer but the charts below are a good guide.  Also, please note that the Type 3 High Intensity chart also defines observation and entrance angles.

Type 1 Engineer Grade Reflectivity Chart

Type 2 Super Engineer Grade Reflectivity Chart

Type 3 High Intensity Reflectivity Chart

Type 4 High Intensity Prismatic (HIP)

High Intensity Prismatic Reflectivity

 Type 5 V82 Prismatic Tape (thin tape)

Type 5 Reflective Tape Specs

Type 8 Crystal / Diamond Grade Reflectivity Chart (thick stiff tape)

MUTCD Regulations for Traffic Cones – Reflective Collar Requirements

Reflective Requirements for Traffic Cones

Our Summary

Traffic Cones need to be orange in color.   For daytime and low speed applications cones need to be 18 inches or taller and do not need reflective bands.  It must be daytime AND traffic must be limited to 40 miles per hour or less.

For areas where traffic is going faster than 45 mph you must use a 28 inch – 36 inch orange cone.  The cone must have two reflective bands.  The top band must be 6″ tall and the bottom band must be 4″ tall.  The space between the two bands needs to be 2″. 

Cone Collars can be purchased at .

End of our Summary


Section 6F.64 Cones
01 Cones (see Figure 6F-7) shall be predominantly orange and shall be made of a material that can be struck without causing damage to the impacting vehicle. For daytime and low-speed roadways, cones shall
be not less than 18 inches in height. When cones are used on freeways and other high-speed highways or at night on all highways, or when more conspicuous guidance is needed, cones shall be a minimum of 28 inches
in height.
02 For nighttime use, cones shall be retroreflectorized or equipped with lighting devices for maximum visibility. Retroreflectorization of cones that are 28 to 36 inches in height shall be provided by a 6-inch wide
white band located 3 to 4 inches from the top of the cone and an additional 4-inch wide white band located approximately 2 inches below the 6-inch band.
03 Retroreflectorization of cones that are more than 36 inches in height shall be provided by horizontal, circumferential, alternating orange and white retroreflective stripes that are 4 to 6 inches wide. Each cone shall have a minimum of two orange and two white stripes with the top stripe being orange. Any non-retroreflective spaces between the orange and white stripes shall not exceed 3 inches in width.
04 Traffic cones may be used to channelize road users, divide opposing vehicular traffic lanes, divide lanes when two or more lanes are kept open in the same direction, and delineate short duration maintenance and utility work.
05 Steps should be taken to minimize the possibility of cones being blown over or displaced by wind or moving vehicular traffic.
06 Cones may be doubled up to increase their weight.
07 Some cones are constructed with bases that can be filled with ballast. Others have specially weighted bases, or weight such as sandbag rings that can be dropped over the cones and onto the base to provide added stability.
08 Ballast should be kept to the minimum amount needed.

Retro Reflective Tape / Sheeting Brightness or Reflectivity Comparison Chart

There are several types of reflective tape with each varying in brightness, flexibility and conform ability. Some have a type rating like “Type 1 or 3” and some do not.  Generally, tapes that are used as sign sheeting on DOT roads are known by a Type 1, 2, 3, 5 or 8 designation.  Tapes used in other applications are not rated by type.  SOLAS marine tape is an example of this.  The different reflective tapes vary in brightness but also have some other characteristics that should be considered.  The tape you choose will depend on your application, the surface, and how far away the tape needs to be seen.

The chart below lists the major types of reflective tape along with each tapes brightness and any special characteristics.

  • The reflectivity factors below are in candelas and are measured at a -4 degree entrance angle.  The factors are approximate and meant to be used as a comparison.  The factors below are for white tape.
  • To be CAD cut means that the material can or cannot be cut with a computer controlled vinyl cutter for the creation of letter, numbers, symbols, etc.
  • Flexible means that the tape bends easily.  Thin, flexible tape will bend around a radius easier.
  • Stretchable means it will stretch to conform around complex curves. Only the flexible engineer grade and flexible high intensity will do this.


Reflective Tape Type and Name Brightness (white) Special Characteristics
Engineer Grade Type I 80-100 Candelas Flexible but only stretches a little. Can be CAD cut.
Flexible Engineer Grade Type I 80-100 Candelas Flexible and will stretch. Especially when warmed.  Can be easily CAD cut.
Super Engineer Grade Type II 185 Candelas Flexible and will stretch a little. Can be CAD cut.
High Intensity Grade Type III 250 Candelas Flexible and does not stretch. Difficult to CAD cut.
Flexible High Intensity Type III 250 Candelas Flexible and will stretch. Can be CAD cut.
V92 Reflexite Prismatic 460 Candelas Flexible and will not stretch. Can be CAD cut.
Oralite 5900 High Intensity Prismatic Type IV 500 Candelas Flexible and will not stretch. Difficult to CAD cut.
V82 Reflexite Prismatic Type 5 700 Candelas Flexible and will not stretch. Can be CAD cut.
CRG Nikkalite Prismatic Type VIII 700+ Candelas Stiffer, Thicker Film. Will not stretch. Cannot be CAD cut. Very similar to a diamond grade tape.
Reflexite SOLAS Prismatic Tape 1000+ Candelas Thin and Flexible. Will not stretch. Extra aggressive adhesive. Also available in a sew on material.

Specialty Reflective Tapes-
V97 Reflexite Fluorescent Yellow Tape – thicker than a V92 tape but still CAD cuttable. Reflects at about 325 candelas which is excellent for a yellow colored film.  Used for the backs of fire trucks as Chevron Striping.
R99 Railcar Tape – Schoolbus yellow color (golden yellow) or White. White reflects at 600 candelas and the yellow reflects at 400. Flexible but will not stretch. Used to mark rail cars.  Also known as FRA tape.

What is DOT C2 Reflective Tape ? – Specifications Certification Definition


The term “DOT C2” reflective tape is used quite often in regards to marking tractor trailer rigs 80 inches wide or wider and over 10,000 lbs GVWR.  However, what the term “DOT C2” means is seldom discussed. Most people know that the letters DOT mean “Department of Transportation.  Also, some people know that the term C2, C3 or C4 refers to the width of the tape. (2″,3″ or 4”)  Most people do not know what it takes for a reflective tape to be certified as “DOT C2, C3, or C4”.  This article is meant to help you understand what these requirements are so that you can be sure that you are using the correct product on your vehicle.  In the event of an accident, having the proper markings is especially important.  We recommend Reflexite DOT tapes.  They invented prismatic reflective tape and their products are respected and recognized around the world.  The downsides to using a cheap substitute are simply not worth it.

In order to be certified as DOT C2, C3 or C4 tape, certain requirements have to be met. These requirements involve the construction of the tape, the color, the width, the spacing of the alternating colors, the performance,  and the reflectivity. If a tape has been certified to meet these standards then the manufacturer is allowed to put DOT C2 certification on it. The specifics of the requirements are as follows.

Construction – The requirements for the basic construction of the film are very straight forward.  This is how virtually all reflective tapes are constructed.  The regulation is as follows:

S5.7.1.1  Construction. Retroreflective sheeting shall consist of a smooth, flat, transparent exterior film with retroreflective elements embedded or suspended beneath the film so as to form a non-exposed retroreflective optical system.

Color – DOT tape must be made with white and red alternating colors.  The white color on prismatic tapes often looks silver but reflects white at night. The exact wording of the regulation is as follows:

(a) Retro-reflective sheeting shall be applied in a pattern of alternating white and red color segments to the sides and rear of each trailer, and to the rear of each truck tractor, and in white to the upper rear corners of each trailer and truck tractor, in the locations specified in S5.7.1.4, and Figures 30–1 through 30–4, or Figure 31, as appropriate.  (see this article for placement details)

Spacing -The red and white (silver) segments are required to be a minimum of 12 inches plus or minus 6 inches.   That would be between 6″ and 18″  There is an exception where the tape must be trimmed to avoid obstructions when installed.  Also, neither the red or white colors can exceed two thirds (2/3) of the total.

There are two types of DOT tape available.  A 7″ white / 11″ red and a 6″ white / 6″ red.  If you run the numbers you will see that both meet the spacing requirement.  On 7/11 tape the 7″ white would represent 39% of the aggregate and the 11″ red would represent 61%.  The 6/6 would be 50% each.  To the best of my knowledge all 50 states allow you to use either the 7/11 or 6/6 type DOT tape.  The regulation is quoted below:

(b) Except for a segment that is trimmed to clear obstructions, or lengthened to provide red sheeting near red lamps, each white or red segment shall have a length of 300 mm ±150 mm.

(c) Neither white nor red sheeting shall represent more than two thirds of the aggregate of any continuous strip marking the width of a trailer, or any continuous or broken strip marking its length.

Width – DOT certified tape can be 2″ wide, 3″ wide or 4″ wide. The most popular and cost efficient size is 2 inches but for larger trucks many users prefer the 3 and 4 inch widths in either the 6/6 or 7/11. The more visible the truck the better. Also, in the event of an accident it is important to be able to show due diligence when it comes to vehicle conspicuity.  The specific regulation is as follows:

(d) Retroreflective sheeting shall have a width of not less than 50 mm (Grade DOT-C2), 75 mm (Grade DOT-C3), or 100 mm (Grade DOT-C4).

Reflectivity & Performance – This is one of the most important aspects of this tape.  A bright tape can be seen from longer distances.  For highway applications this is very important.  To meet the DOT C2,3,4 requirements a tape must meet all the requirements for ASTM D4956-90 Type V Sheeting EXCEPT for the reflectivity.  These requirements would include things like adhesion, colorfastness, flexibility, shrinkage,  weathering, etc… Reflectivity requirements are basically equal to Type III or High Intensity Glass Bead tape.  To be safe, a Prismatic DOT tape is recommended.  This will assure that the reflectivity far exceeds the minimum requirements.  The exact wording of the regulation and a reflectivity chart are included below:

S5.7.1.2 Performance requirements. Retroreflective sheeting shall meet the requirements of ASTM D 4956–90, Standard Specification for Retroreflective Sheeting for Traffic Control, for Type V Sheeting, except for the photometric requirements, and shall meet the minimum photometric performance requirements specified in Figure 29.

(e) The coefficients for retroreflection of each segment of red or white sheeting shall be not less than the minimum values specified in Figure 29 of this standard for grades DOT-C2, DOT-C3, and DOT-C4.

Figure 29—Minimum Photometric Performance of Retroflective Sheeting in Candela/Lux/Square Meter

Entrance angle Observation angle Grade
0.2 Degree 0.5 Degree
White Red White Red
-4 degree 250 60 65 15 DOT–C2
30 degree 250 60 65 15 DOT–C2
45 degree 60 15 15 4 DOT–C2
-4 degree 165 40 43 10 DOT–C3
30 degree 165 40 43 10 DOT–C3
45 degree 40 10 10 3 DOT–C3
-4 degree 125 30 33 8 DOT–C4
30 degree 125 30 33 8 DOT–C4
45 degree 30 8 8 2 DOT–C4

DOT Certification Logo – The DOT-C2 designation is to appear on the tape at least every 12 inches.  The characters should be at least 3 mm tall and stamped in indelible ink or an equivalent.  The exact wording is below:

S5.7.1.5 Certification. The letters DOT-C2, DOT-C3, or DOT-C4, as appropriate, constituting a certification that the retroreflective sheeting conforms to the requirements of S5.7.1.2, shall appear at least once on the exposed surface of each white or red segment of retroreflective sheeting, and at least once every 300 mm on retroreflective sheeting that is white only. The characters shall be not less than 3 mm high, and shall be permanently stamped, etched, molded, or printed in indelible ink.

Reflective Tape For Snow Poles and Snowy Winter Conditions

Photo taken against a white background.

Each year, as the weather turns colder, people in Northern States and Canada begin to gear up for snowy conditions.  Snow plow companies begin making snow poles to mark roads and driveways and snow mobile enthusiasts begin to prepare their trails and snowmobiles.  There are also a variety of other types of vehicles and objects that need to be seen at night and in the daytime in snowy conditions.  (i.e. dumpsters, roll off containers, fire hydrants, utility boxes, gates, fences, etc..)

Creating visibility in the snow is always a matter of CONTRAST.  The words in this article are only visible because they are black and the background is off white.  In northern states contrast in the summer time is going to be different than contrast in the snow for obvious reasons.  Also, you have to consider visibility in the daytime and at night.  You can see how this can be a bit of a challenge.

To keep this article simple I am going to list the different colors of prismatic tape along with their pros and cons for snow visibility.  Prismatic tapes are the brightest class of tape and are excellent for snow conditions.  I have a picture of the different tapes above.

White -This is the brightest tape by far.  White prismatic reflects any where from 500 for DOT white to  1000 candelas for SOLAS.  Against a dark background this is great but against a white background visibility drops.  In the daytime white is not very noticeable.

Fluorescent Lime Yellow – This tape is visible day and night.  It is also very bright although not as bright as white.  Roughly 325 candelas which is excellent.  It can be seen against almost any background.  The advantage to this film over white is that it reflects a color which is important when white is your background.

School Bus Yellow – This film reflects at about 310 candelas which is very good.  It is about as bright as the fluorescent yellow.  At night they look similar but in the daytime the fluorescent yellow is more visible. This tape reflects yellow making it visible against other colors.

Orange – This film reflects at 185 candelas.  This is actually very good for an orange tape.  Orange against other colors really stands out.  It normally designates a work zone so it is a good color for snow poles.  The darker shade stands out against white quite well.

Red – This film reflects at 75 candelas.  Don’t let the low number fool you.  Keep in mind you are sending out 75 candelas of a red color which really gets peoples attention and stands out against snow very well.  It is also very visible in the daytime.  Good film for snow poles.

Green – This reflects at the same rate as red.  Good color to mark areas that are ok to go into.  Green is a universal “GO” color.  Stands out well.  Use it where green is needed.

Blue –  This tape reflects at 35 candelas.  For blue that is very good.  Goes well mixed with other colors.  Good against light colored backgrounds.  35 candelas is plenty of light to see the film from several hundred feet away.

Keep in mind that you can mix colors to create any effect you wish.  You could do two stripes of red with white in between to get a good contrast.  You can use green to mark areas that are ok to enter and red to mark do not enter zones.  Blue is commonly used for fire hydrants.  Yellow is a work zone color and signifies caution.   As I stated before, I recommend the prismatic tapes over other types of reflective tapes because of the higher reflectivity.

I hope this helps.  We have these films available at and


Reflective Tape for Automatic and Manual Gates and Fences

Note – This article addresses ways to mark gates that are located on private property and do not open onto a DOT regulated road.  For gates that open onto a road see our other articles on this site about MUTCD or Army Corp of Engineer gate marking requirements.

Gates and fences are designed to block or limit access to certain areas.  Standard gates are expensive and automatic gates are very expensive.  Needless to say, no one wants their gate to be struck by a vehicle.  This is where reflective tape can help.  When marking your gate or fence you have several choices of reflective tape in varying intensities and colors.  You are going to want to make sure your gate is visible in the day, at night, close up and far away.

In the daytime color is the key.  You need a bright color that will get peoples attention.  Barricade tapes that are striped at angles are excellent in getting the attention of a driver.  These tapes are available in an engineer grade as well as a high intensity grade.  Also, they can be purchased in a red/white or orange/white combination. DOT tapes are also great for daytime visibility.  They alternate white and red.  You see these tapes used extensively on over the road trucks.  We also have a gate arm tape that looks similar but has 16″ alternating colors.  These striped tapes are like the barricade tapes but the stripes go up and down and not diagonally.  DOT tapes are only available in the prismatic grade.  (brightest) All of these tapes make your gate very conspicuous night and day.

If you prefer to use a single color and still want daytime visibility you can choose a colored engineer grade, high intensity or prismatic grade of tape.  Red, orange, yellow, blue and green are available.  Alternating colors is also an option.  Engineer grade is bright at night, high intensity is brighter and Prismatic is brightest.

For visibility at night you can use the options above.  However, you also have the option of using a tape that blends in with the gate.  If your gate is white or silver or grey then a white engineer, high intensity or prismatic tape will blend and also be the brightest at night.  White is always the brightest color.  If you have a bronze or black gate and want the tape to blend in the daytime then you only have one choice.  That is black engineer grade reflective tape.  This tape is black in the day but reflects a goldish color up to a white color depending on the brightness of the light hitting it.  Keep in mind that black reflective tape reflects at about 10 candela while a white engineer grade reflects at 75 candelas.  Compare this with a prismatic tape that can reflect from 500 – 1000 candelas depending on the type.  I have found that black is good for gates in very dark alleys where there is no competing light.  If you do use black then you would want to use as much as possible.

Of all the choices above the safest in my opinon is the DOT tape or RGA Rail Gate Arm reflective tape.  They get your attention in the day and are extremely bright at night.  They are visible from thousands instead of hundreds of feet away.

If you have a gate that is required by law to have alternating red and white tape on it then you will want to use our RGA (rail gate arm) reflective tape.  You can view an article on that tape by clicking here.  The picture below shows the basic requirements for a Corp Of Engineers Gate.

I hope this article is helpful.  If you have any questions you can email me or call me at 850-934-3157.

Reflective Tape for Gate Arms and Railroad Crossings – MUTCD

Note – This article addresses gate striping requirements for gates that fall under MUTCD requirements.  These would be gates that open onto a DOT regulated road.

Reflective Gate Arm Tape can now be purchased in 1″,2″,3″ and 4″ rolls at .

Section 2B.68 of the 2009 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) specifies how gate arms are to be marked.  MUTCD regulations also apply to private property when that property connects to a DOT road.  This regulation covers all gate arms including those used at railroad crossings.  All gates are required to be marked with alternating red and white 16″ sections of reflective tape.  The width will depend on the width of the arm.  It is recommended that a Type 2 or better retro-reflective tape be used.  For more information on minimum reflectivity levels see our article on that subject to the right.

Section 2B.68 Gates

01 – Gates described in this section used for weather or other emergency conditions are typically permanently installed to enable the gate to be immediately deployed as needed to prohibit the entry of traffic to the highway segment(s).
02 – A gate typically features a gate arm that is moved from a vertical to a horizontal position or is rotated in a horizontal plane from parallel to traffic to perpendicular to traffic. Traffic is obstructed and required to stop when
the gate arm is placed in a horizontal position perpendicular to traffic. Another type of gate consists of a segment of fence (usually on rollers) that swings open and closed, or that is retracted to open and then extended to close.
03 – Gates are sometimes used to enforce a required stop. Some examples of such uses are the following:

A. Parking facility entrances and exits,
B. Private community entrances and exits,
C. Military base entrances and exits,
D. Toll plaza lanes,
E. Movable bridges (see Chapter 4J),
F. Automated Flagger Assistance Devices (see Chapter 6E), and
G. Grade crossings (see Part 8).
04 – Gates are sometimes used to periodically close a roadway or a ramp. Some examples of such uses are
the following:
A. Closing ramps to implement counter-flow operations for evacuations,
B. Closing ramps that lead to reversible lanes, and
C. Closing roadways for weather events such as snow, ice, or flooding, or for other emergencies.

05 – Except as provided in Paragraph 6, gate arms, if used, shall be fully retroreflectorized on both sides, have vertical stripes alternately red and white at 16-inch intervals measured horizontally as shown in Figure 8C-1.

06 – If used on a one-way roadway or ramp, the retroreflectorization may be omitted on the side of the gate facing away from approaching traffic.
07 – Where gate arms are used to block off ramps into reversible lanes or to redirect approaching traffic, the red and white striping may be angled such that the stripes slope downward at an angle of 45 degrees toward the side of
the gate arm on which traffic is to pass.

08 – The gate arm shall extend across the approaching lane or lanes of traffic to effectively block motor vehicle and/or pedestrian travel as appropriate.
09 – When gate arms are in the vertical position or rotated to an open position, the closest part of the gate arm and support shall have a lateral offset of at least 2 feet from the face of the curb or the edge of the traveled way.
10 – When gate arms that are located in the median or on an island are in the horizontal position or rotated to a closed position, the closest part of the counterweight or its supports shall h ave a lateral offset of at least 2 feet from the face of the curb or the edge of the traveled way of the open roadway on the opposite side of the median or island.

11 – When a gate that is rotated in a horizontal plane is in the position where it is parallel to traffic (indicating that the roadway is open), the outer end of the gate arm should be rotated to the downstream direction (from the perspective of traffic in the lane adjacent to the gate support) to prevent spearing if the gate is struck by an errant vehicle.
12 – If a pedestrian route is present and if it is not intended that pedestrian traffic be controlled by the gate, a minimum of 2 feet of lateral offset from supports, posts, counterweights, and gate mechanisms should be provided when the gate arm is in the open position and when the gate arm is in the closed position such that pedestrian travel is not impeded.

13 – Red lights may be attached to traffic gates.
14 – If red lights are attached to a traffic gate, the red lights shall be steadily illuminated or flashed only during the period when the gate is in the horizontal or closed position and when the gate is in the process of being opened or closed.
15 – Except as provided in Paragraph 16, rolling sections of fence, if used, shall include either a horizontal strip of retroreflectorized sheeting on both sides of the fence with vertical stripes alternately red and white at 16-inch intervals measured horizontally to simulate the appearance of a gate arm in the horizontal position, or one or more Type 4 object markers (see Section 2C.66), or both. If a horizontal strip of retroreflectorized sheeting is used, the bottom of the sheeting shall be located 3.5 to 4.5 feet above the roadway surface.

16 If used on a one-way roadway or ramp, the retroreflectorization may be omitted on the side of the fence facing away from approaching traffic.





Gate Striping Requirements (Reflective Tape) – Army Corp of Engineers

Note – This article addresses gate striping requirements for gates that fall under MUTCD requirements.  These would be gates that open onto a DOT regulated road.

The US Army Corp of Engineers is requiring that their gates be marked in accordance with the following regulation.  The images below give you a visual synopsis of the requirement.  For gates along a road way where cars would be approaching at higher speeds or at intersections where there is not a stop sign you would use the first image below which is the one with the road closed or the red diamond sign. 

For gates that branch off of a main road or have a stop sign you would use the second example.  Cars in this situation would be moving slower. This is the most likely configuration.

We have two products that are designed to meet these requirements.  One is our Reflexite Gate Arm Tape and the other is our Yellow Prismatic Reflective Tape which act as Type 2 object markers. (also used for Chevron Striping on Fire Trucks)

Here is the regulation.

1. A closed gate across a road is a potential hazard to moving vehicles, bicycles, and possibly pedestrians. Vehicle drivers must be able to see that there is a closed gate ahead and have adequate recognition and stopping distance to avoid hitting the gate. Due to questions raised by the USACE Sign Standards Committee and field personnel, CESO and CEC W personnel have developed this guidance to clarify the marking requirements for road closure gates on USACE parks and property. This particular guidance is for swinging gates; rolling chain-link gates are addressed in Reference d. below. Gates are the only acceptable movable closure; chains, cables, and wire rope are prohibited on roads used by the public.

2. References.
a. EP 310-l-6a & b; USACE Sign Standards Manual

b. EM 385-1-1; USACE Safety and Health Requirements Manual

c. 23 CFR 655, Subpart F-—Traffic Control Devices on Federal-Aid and Other Streets and Highways

d. Federal Highway Administration Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD, rev 2009)

3. 23 CFR 655.603 adopts the MUTCD as the national standard for all traffic control devices installed on any street, highway, bikeway, or private road open to public travel. When a State or other Federal agency manual or supplement is required, that manual or supplement shall be in substantial conformance with the National MUTCD. The MUTCD states that “All regulatory and warning signs installed on public roads and streets within recreational and cultural interest areas shall comply with the requirements of Chapters 2A, 2B, 2C, 7B, 8B, and 9B.” The MUTCD definition of a public road is “Any road. street, or similar facility under the jurisdiction of and maintained by a public agency and open to public travel.”

4. The USACE Sign Standards Manual EP3l()-l-6a on page 9-l states that “The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD) has been adopted as the standard for all Regulatory and Warning signs used on Corps project roadways for vehicular traffic.”

5. While this guidance is intended to describe the minimum acceptable standards for marking roadway gates on USACE properties, the MUTCD encourages decisions concerning a particular traffic sign to be determined using engineering judgment or an engineering study.

6. Gate Marking Guidance:

a. Roads Open to Public Travel

i. Through Roads, Extensions of Federal, State or County Roads; When such roads exist on a USACE property, gates closing traffic to these roads must meet the specific requirements of MUTCD Section 2B.68., 2C.36-39. and 6F.l7. This includes marking the gates (red and white reflective material-paint, tape, etc- on the arms), marking gate stanchions (yellow Type 2 Object Markers), a ROAD CLOSED sign or Type 4 red Object Marker, and possibly providing an Advance Warning Sign ahead of the gate. Refer to Enclosure 1 for specific requirements.

ii. USACE Roads Approved for Public Use: Access Roads, Campground Roads, Scenic Roads. etc; These gates must technically meet the same MUTCD requirements as those in the preceding paragraph, however the local project may use the standards and engineering analysis to develop modified markings based on local factors to include: the design of the gate, potential speed of approaching vehicles, available stopping sight distance, and visibility of the gate and surrounding area at night. Gates that occur along the length of a roadway or at a no-stop intersection should meet all MUTCD requirements if possible. For gates at stop-signed intersections or occurring at an exit off a main route, the minimum recommendation is that the top horizontal bar of the gate be covered end to end with red and white retroreflective material and the stanchions marked with yellow reflective material or Type 2 Object Markers. The use of advance warning signs and Type 4 Object Markers should be decided based on the speed limit, visible distance to the gate while driving, and other factors that make the gate less visible. Refer to Enclosure 2 for further guidelines.

b. Roads Not Open to the Public — USACE access roads, service roads, etc.; Where these roads connect to a through road or public use road, the initial gate should meet the requirements of those public roadways. Internal gates within public vehicle-restricted areas should be marked appropriately with reflectors or reflective tape so that they are readily identifiable while work is performed. Roadways not approved for standard vehicles may be authorized for recreational vehicles (ATVs, snowmobiles, bicycles, etc.); these gates should meet the guidance in paragraph ii, modified as needed by an engineering analysis.

7. These guidelines are intended to bring some standard of uniformity to USACE road gates and to require those that fall under the MUTCD to have appropriate markings. USACE managers should evaluate their properties’ gates along these guidelines and establish a plan to bring their gates into compliance, beginning with the highest risk. New or replacement gates installed after the date of this memo shall follow these marking guidelines.

Enclosure 1

Markings for MUTCD Compliant Gates: permanently installed gates that control through roads, extensions of Federal, State or County roads.
Also recommended for gates on USACE roads that occur along the length of a roadway or at a no-stop intersection where traffic would be expected to be at the speed limit when meeting the gate.
Gate arms shall be fully retroreflectorized on both sides, have vertical stripes alternately red and white at l6-inch intervals measured horizontally. lf used on a one-way roadway, the retroreflectorization may be omitted on the side of the gate facing away from approaching traffic.

The gate shall also have either a Type 4 Object Marker (red diamond) or Road Closed sign attached.

Rolling sections of fence, if used as gates, shall include either a horizontal strip of retroreflectorized material on both sides of the fence with vertical stripes alternately red and white at 16-inch intervals measured horizontally to simulate the appearance of a gate arm in the horizontal position and one or more Type 4 object markers . The bottom of the retroreflectorized area shall be located 3.5 to 4.5 feet above the roadway surface.
Gate stanchions or any fixed structure within 8 feet of the roadway shall have Type 2 Object Markers (Yellow reflectors). Gate stanchions and the gate arm, when open, shall be at least 2 feet from the edge of the paved road surface.

Basic appearance of MUTCD-compliant gates: (recommended where gate is along the length of a roadway or at a non stop sign intersection)

Advance Warning Signs
Advance Warning Signs are required for gates that can close through roads and extensions of Federal, State or County roads.

The time needed for detection, recognition, decision, and reaction is called the Perception-Response Time (PRT). This helps establish the distance ahead of the gate that a warning sign should be placed, based on the speed limit and visibility of the gate.

MUTCD Table 2C-4 should be used as an aid for determining warning sign location. The distances can be adjusted for roadway features, other signing, and to improve visibility. The distances are for guidance purposes and should be applied with engineering judgment. Warning signs should not be placed too far in advance of the condition, such that drivers might tend to forget the warning because of other driving distractions.

Signs warning of closed gates should read “ROAD CLOSED AHEAD” and can be permanently fixed or only placed when the gate is closed. Permanently fixed signs should be provided with a cover or be of the folding type so that they cannot be read when the gate is open.

Minimum recommended marking requirements for gates on USACE roads open to the public, when not occurring on the length of a road or at a no-stop intersection. (see diagram below)

The purpose is to make the gate visible when they encounter it. Type 4 Object markers and Road Closed signs would generally be unnecessary on most USACE roads, given the low speeds and placement of the gates at turn-off entrances.

Diagram of the two types of gate marking requirements.  One for gates along the length of a road or an intersection where there is no stop sign and one for gates that branch off a main road or are at a stop sign intersection.

Chevron Striping NFPA 1901 – Reflective Diamond Plate Solutions – Article 2

Free V98 Sample Pack.  In 2009 the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) issued a recommendation known as NFPA 1901 that sets standards for reflective striping on fire trucks and fire apparatus.

In this article we will cover section of NFPA 1901 which covers the rear of the vehicle.  Specifically, we are going to cover how to make diamond treadplate reflective with chevron striping.  The NFPA requirement is summarized below.

REFLECTIVE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE REAR OF THE VEHICLE (summary) At least 50 percent of the rear-facing vertical surfaces, visible from the rear of the apparatus, excluding any pump panel areas not covered by a door, shall be equipped with retro-reflective striping in a chevron pattern sloping downward and away from the centerline of the vehicle at an angle of 45 degrees.  The stripes are to be alternating red and yellow.  Standard or Fluorescent yellow is accepted.   Each stripe should be 6″ wide and should be a minimum of type 1 (engineer grade).

(end summary)

As you know many fire trucks utilize diamond plate or treadplate on the rear of the vehicle.  This creates a challenge when trying to achieve a 50% coverage ratio.  If the amount of diamond plate is small then the area can simply be bypassed.  However, this often creates an unbalanced look.  If the diamond plate area is larger then some type of reflective treatment is necessary.

There are several very effective ways to make diamond treadplate reflective.  All of the materials can be purchase at our online store


Reflective DOTS for Treadplate – 3/4″ reflective dots can be placed onto the flat area between the diamonds to create a reflective surface.  Dots or circles are easy to apply and seem to be easier to line up.  When using dots or circles you should keep in mind that you are getting about a 44% coverage ratio on the treadplate.  To achieve a 50% overall coverage you would need to have some solid chevron striping on the back of the truck as well.  The image at the top of this page is a good example.  One secret to applying circles is to push each one into the same corner on the diamond plate pattern.  (versus trying to center each one.)  This will guarantee a perfect line.  We have more information on the reflective circles at this link.


Reflective Squares or Rounded Squares – squares or diamonds that are 3/4″ in size also work very well.  They give you a 65 – 75% coverage ratio which is much better than circles.  If the entire back of a truck was diamond plate then covering the area with squares or rounded squares would achieve the NFPA recommendation.  Apply the rounded squares is a peel and stick process.   To get them straight you can make a faint, straight line with a pencil and then apply.  You can click here for more information on the reflective rounded squares or standard squares.

Reflective Overlays – overlays cover even more than squares and are easier to line up.  With an overlay you can cover 4 spaces at once which makes application about 4 times faster.  A coverage ratio of plus 80% can be achieved with this method.  The ones shown to the left are cut from Reflexite V98 series film.  This is a conformable and repositionable tape which makes it very popular with fire departments and graphics companies.   It is a peel and stick application.  We have more information on the reflective overlays at this link.

NFPA 1917 1901 Chevron Strips

Reflective Chevron Strips (Style A or B) – our chevron strips are an easy way of creating 6 inch wide highly reflective stripes on diamond plate. They are custom cut to fit around the diamonds. It takes just seconds per decal to install. This is the fastest method that we know of for applying reflectivity to diamond plate.  We have two styles to fit two diamond plate layouts. Some diamonds are right at 1″ from tip to tip and some are 1/16″ less than an inch. We have these available at .

Reflexite V98 Conformable Chevron Striping – if you want 100% coverage you can simply use a conformable sheeting like the new Reflexite V98 material.  This material will conform over the diamond plate.  We have had good success with it, however, you may want to try a sample piece on your diamond plate to be sure you get the conformability you need.  One thing that we found effective was to lay the yellow down first and then overlap the yellow with the red.  (red on top) This seems to create a better seal since the red is a little more flexible.  We have the Reflexite Conformable V98 material on our main website.

Reflexite V98 Conformable Reflective Chevron Striping