More vehicles are finding their way on the roads worldwide. This increase in traffic puts extra focus on the need for making the roads safe for travellers. Safe traffic flow is highly dependent on properly performing road markings and traffic signs – something TAPCO, a large supplier of equipment related to traffic safety in North America, is highly aware of.
"Being in the business of keeping traveller’s safe whether it be a motorist, pedestrian, passenger or cyclist the messages on the avenues of travel need to be clear and concise and to the standard required by a government or agency. Signage is what advises us of legal regulations, warns us of impending conditions and directs us to our destination. These signs need to be highly visible and that visibility needs to be met both during the day and at night," says Joanne Conrad, sign making and compliance Manager, TAPCO.
TAPCO both uses and sells traffic safety equipment to private and governmental road authorities like State Department of Transportations in North America.
More road accidents happen at nighttime
Driving at night-time on dark roads, retroreflection of traffic signs and road markings are main tools guiding drivers to keep the vehicles safely positioned on the roads thus avoiding or at least reducing the number of traffic accidents significantly. During wet and rainy weather, even high-performing traffic signs and road markings present a challenge, since water often covers the reflective surfaces of the elements partly or fully, thus reducing or eliminating retroreflectivity.
North America is the largest market for retroreflectometers. According to the US Federal Highways Administration: "Inadequate and poorly maintained signs and markings are often cited as the contributing factor to accidents. While only 25% of travel occurs at night, about 55% of the fatal accidents occur in the night". In other words, the risk of a road accident is up to three times higher at nighttime compared to daytime driving.
Retroreflectometers are a vital tool for checking traffic sign performance
Road owners are responsible for ensuring that traffic signs and road markings perform according to national and international standards. Use of retroreflectometers, like the new RetroSign GRX from DELTA, is a vital tool for road owners to ensure that traffic signs and road markings are meeting the minimum requirements.
"More accidents percentage-wise happen at night when less people are travelling. The RetroSign GRX assists an agency in maintaining retroreflectivity so they comply with the standards. Not only does the GRX read and record retroreflectivity, it actually is a tool managing the sign program within the agency," says Joanne Conrad from TAPCO.
RetroSign GRX is a modern instrument offering numerous new features
DELTA (a part of FORCE Technology) develops and sells retroreflectometers. RetroSign GRX is the most recent development of this range of instruments launched in autumn 2016. This camera-based tool offers several interesting new functionalities for inspecting road signs.
"Where is it? What is it? How bright is it? With the GRX you can answer all these questions. The built-in GPS or manual input designates the signs location and data, and it can be view on Google Earth. You can also bring location information into your asset management programme quite easily. The built-in camera takes a colour picture of the sign so you can see the sign and its surroundings, which at times may affect retroreflectivity. The GRX will tell you how bright your sign is for up to 7 observation angles and optional entrance angles are available specific to your requirements," says Joanne Conrad from TAPCO, who has acted as sparring partner during the development of the GRX.
For TAPCO it is also important that the RetroSign GRX provides colour recognition, sign contrast assessment, pass/fail function as well as the ability to identify sign orientation and instrument rotation. For the US market a MUTCD sign library is available as an option allowing easy pass/fail function and comparing of the measured sign with the library standard. A vital new function is image acquisition, capturing pictures of the measured sign with the option of marking and noting comments related to the sign.
Joanne Conrad emphasises that the GRX can be used for multiple purposes: "If you are an agency with multiple requirements for retroreflectivity this GRX unit not only can be used for signs but also safety clothing and license plates and multiple non-traffic applications. The unit is easy to set up and ergonomically designed. The use of this unit will enhance your ability to track your retroreflectivity and have a total solution."