The new MUTCD standards now require railroad crossing gate arms to be equipped with a striped retro-reflective tape. Note-This new standard applies to all gates and not just railroad or grade crossings. The requirements are as follows.
US DOT FHWA Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) – 2009 Edition per Section 8C.04 Paragraph 05 stating “Gate arms shall be fully retroreflectorized on both sides and shall have vertical stripes alternatively red and white at 16-inch intervals measured horizontally”. To view our full article on the MUTCD gate arm requirements CLICK HERE.
The reason for this change is simple. Barricade tapes that are slanted direct traffic one way or another. A left slant tape directs traffic to the left and a right slant tape directs traffic to the right. At a railroad crossing you are supposed to stop. Hence the change to a tape that does not slant but instead is striped vertically.
The type 2 or better requirement comes from the MUTCD standards for street signs. Most street signs must now use type 2 or better retro reflective material. Because of this it is recommended that you use the same guidelines for reflective gate arms. Also, it is recommended that you use the widest tape that will fit on the gate arm. In the event of an accident you will want to be able to show that you followed the MUTCD standards and also used a reasonable width of tape.
Steven Cole (Economics, MBA) 24 years experience in the reflective safety business. Owner of Reflective Inc.