VA LTAP SAFETY CIRCUIT RIDER PROGRAM

CENTER FOR TRANSPORTATION STUDIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

 ANNUAL LOW-COST SAFETY INITIATIVE

HIGH-VISIBILITY RETROREFLECTIVE SIGNAL BACKPLATES

 

What are high-visibility retroreflective signal backplates?

High-visibility backplates have a three-inch fluorescent yellow retroreflective border added to the black backplate that surrounds the housing of a typical traffic signal.

How do high-visibility retroreflective signal backplates improve safety?

The retroreflective borders enhance the visibility of traffic signals in most conditions, especially in low-light situations such as at night, and during fog and rain. They are also effective in urban conditions with distracting visual clutter (advertising signs, billboards, etc.), at rural locations after long stretches without signals, and during power outages.

What intersections are appropriate for high-visibility backplates? When should they be installed?

The Federal Highway Administration recommends adding retroreflective borders to signal backplates as a high-impact, low-cost treatment to improve safety at all signalized intersections.

Use of the high-visibility borders are now part of VDOT’s normal signal business practices for new signal builds and major rebuilds. Transportation officials responsible for locally owned intersections should consider upgrading all crash-prone intersections in their jurisdictions, in addition to installing the retroreflective borders during scheduled maintenance or rebuilds of existing signals.

What makes high-visibility retroreflective backplates “low-cost”?

The estimated materials cost per backplate is less than $150. Overall project costs depend on variables, including the size and location of the intersection, but are estimated at an average of $800 per signal head.

Are funding sources available? How can localities get started upgrading to high-visibility retrorefl backplates?

The VA LTAP Safety Circuit Rider Program has funding to purchase and facilitate installation of approximately 100 backplates starting in spring 2019. Contact Becky Golden, LTAP’s Safety Circuit Rider engineer, at scr@virginia.edu or 833-330-3428 for information on suppliers and funding opportunities.


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