The Importance of Traffic and Road Sign Retroreflectivity.

Posted by Jeff Dornbos on 15th May 2017

White, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red strips of reflective tape             A role of red/white reflective tape

 Retroreflectivity occurs on traffic signs when the beam of light from a vehicle’s headlights is directed back to the driver by the reflective sign sheeting on the traffic sign. How much light is reflected back to the motorist depends on the intensity of the headlights and they type of reflective material used to make the traffic sign.

In the “old days” glass-bead retroreflection was used with Engineer Grade Reflective Sheeting created by 3M in the 1950’s. Since then, 3M created Cube-Corner Retroreflective Sheeting with products like High Intensity Prismatic and Diamond Grade Sheeting.

When vehicle headlights strike a road sign, the light is reflected back to the driver in a cone-shaped pattern. The cone of reflectivity allows drivers to see the sign. As the driver approaches the sign, the brighter the sign appears. The more efficient the sign sheeting is, the better the visibility of the traffic sign. New technology of 3M Diamond Grade Cubed Reflective Sheeting expand the cone of reflectivity in both terms of the amount of light directed toward the driver and by returning light in a larger cone of reflectivity. The larger cone of reflectivity means the not only cars, but SUV’s, pickups trucks and semi-trucks with high observation angles (because the driver sits higher in the vehicle) are able to see the bright, clearly legible STOP sign, SPEED LIMIT sign, STREET NAME sign, etc.

Dornbos Sign & Safety has been using the latest technologies associated with TRAFFIC SIGNS & TRAFFIC CONTROL PRODUCTS for over 50 years. For more information, please contact us at or call us at 800.922.0029.