A research project designed to make drivers safer in rainy, night-time conditions is in its final stage, with a report due out this year. The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) project funded by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will determine what pavement marking systems perform best under adverse weather conditions.
A 1,600 foot “rain tunnel” test course at TTI’s Riverside Campus facility simulates virtually all rain conditions, enabling researchers to measure the visibility of pavement marking systems. “The tests will have a far-reaching impact on night-time visibility for drivers that find themselves on the road during rainy conditions, such as the ones we’ve been experiencing in Texas over the last two months,” said Jeff Miles, an associate transportation researcher in TTI’s Signs and Markings Division.
Even though the project is not complete, the initial findings have already changed standards and policies used in the United States and worldwide. “We presented our findings to ASTM International, which led to several changes in its existing standards and specifications for measuring performance of wet pavement markings,” said Project Manager Paul Carlson, head of the division. “Our ultimate goal is safety. We want to make sure motorists clearly see pavement markings even in the worst driving conditions.”
Year two of the project involves collection of detection-distance data from a second round of wet-night and comparative dry visibility experiments. Carlson, Miles and others will consider durability and cost information before finalizing the research. “We not only want to consider the visibility but also the cost associated with implementing the various pavement marking systems,” said Adam Pike, an assistant transportation researcher in TTI’s Signs and Markings Division. “The marking system has to be effective, but also reasonably priced.”
See Evaluation of Wet-Weather Pavement Markings: First Year Report for the first-year’s findings.