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Brighter signs mean safer roads
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), fully half of all traffic fatalities occur at night, even though the nighttime hours account for only a quarter of total vehicle miles driven. In fact, "the rate of night fatalities is ... three times higher than that for daytime."1 Closing this gap has been a major priority for many years, and the FHWA recommends that making traffic control devices more visible to drivers at night is one of the most cost-effective solutions to the problem.1

3M has invested ten years and tens of millions of dollars looking for ways to help make nighttime driving safer. The result is 3M Full Cube Technology—the first material with true, 100% efficient optical elements. Incorporated into 3M™ Diamond Grade™ DG3 Reflective Sheeting, 3M Full Cube Technology nearly doubles the effective brightness of roadway signs. Studies have found that where more-visible signs are installed, crash numbers have fallen 25 to 46% in three to six years.2

Drivers comprehend brighter signs faster
Less time reading, more time driving.
The purpose of a traffic sign is to communicate important information to drivers. And in real situations—driving fast, traveling at night—drivers simply have a limited time to read and understand signs.

At night, highly retroreflective sheeting helps make traffic signs not only more conspicuous, but also quicker to understand. In fact, a recent study at the University of Iowa found a direct correlation between a sign's brightness and a driver's ability to comprehend the sign's message.1 Study participants were able to read and understand brighter signs substantially faster. This study suggests that brighter signs require less eyes-off-the-road time and more time to attend to the driving task, which is directly related to safety.4

"Implementation of highly reflective signs and pavement markings has the potential to reduce night-time collisions by increasing sign conspicuity, sign legibility and consequently driver perception time."
Hamilton Associates Report for the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) study.2

Brighter signs are also a cost-effective safety investment
Traffic professionals are trusted to be good stewards of public funds. So a new product must do more than improve public safety; it must also prove its cost effectiveness. 3M™ Diamond Grade™ DG3 Reflective Sheeting has proven its value here, as well.

  • A three-year program of upgrading sign sheeting in Sioux City, Iowa resulted in a 34:1 benefit-to-cost ratio, and a six-year program in Mendocino County in California resulted in "savings of 159:1 to 299:1."2
  • Over the life of a sign, use of higher performance reflective sheeting may actually cost less. "Agencies may experience a reduction in service life costs because of the longer service life of the improved sign face materials." 5

2Ripley, D. A., Howard R. Green Company, ITE AB04H313, Quantifying the Safety Benefits of Traffic Control Devices— Benefit-Cost Analysis of Traffic Sign Upgrades, 2005 Mid-Continent Transportation Research Symposium Proceedings
3Schnell, T., Yekhshatyan, L., Daiker, R., Konz, J., Effect of Luminance on Information Acquisition Time and Accuracy from Traffic Signs. Paper accepted for presentation and publication, Transportation Research Record, Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2008.
4 Dewar, R. and Olson, P., Human Factors in Traffic Safety, Second Edition, 2007: Lawyers & Judges Publishing Company, Incorporated. 549p
5 Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center Technical Report No. FHWA-HRT-07-042