All-Weather Pavement Marking System Ready for Work Zone Tests
3M is leading an effort to develop an all weather pavement marking system for construction work zones-one of the initial projects awarded grants under the FHWA Technology Partnerships Program. Part of the Highways for LIFE initiative to promote highway industry innovation, this program provides funds to move innovations from promising prototypes to market-ready products.
The project aims to refine and evaluate a pavement marking system for work zones that is highly reflective in both dry and rainy conditions, making it more visible than conventional marking systems and resulting in work zones safer that are safer for both travelers and construction workers.
In the first phase of the project, 3M chose three prototype pavement marking systems (from an initial set of 20 tested candidates) for human factors visibility evaluation at Texas Transportation Institute (TTI). The three all-weather paint prototypes, a temporary wet reflective tape (3M 780 tape), and paint with conventional glass beads were applied to a closed course at TTI that features a section where artificial rain was generated. Thirty participants evaluated the five pavement marking systems under dry, rainy,
and wet conditions while driving the closed course at night. All three prototypes performed equivalently under all conditions and significantly outperformed the conventional paint markings under wet and rainy conditions. The results of this first phase of the FHWA project can be found at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/hfl/partnerships/3m/phase1/index.cfm.
The FHWA recently approved the second and final phase of the project in which one of the three 3M prototype pavement markings will be tested against paint with conventional glass beads in three work zones-two in Washington State and one in North Carolina. Within these work zones, driver performance measures such as lane-keeping and vehicle speeds will be evaluated. The goal is to provide a cost-effective pavement marking system that maintains optimal visibility and enhances driver safety in all types of weather especially in challenging driving conditions such as construction work zones.
A paper describing the experiment will be presented at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in January 2009 in Washington, D.C., and later published in Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board.