Along the Lines of Safety

You see them every day. You follow them without thinking. They guide traffic and help keep everyone safe, but no one really notices them. Until they start to fade, that is, and that’s when you see our line painting crews out in full force.

Line painting is another task in our long, annual to-do list. We have to do it every year, because the lines get worn through regular road use. This is especially true in the winter, with sanding, salting and plowing all doing their part to wear the paint away and make the lines less visible.

Annual Safety maintenance

Did you know?The paint we use reflects light because it has tiny, specially-designed glass beads in it.

Yellow is used in many countries for centre line markings for a reason. In addition to being recognized as a “warning” colour, it’s also the most visible hue in the spectrum.

But keeping our roads well marked is about more than just putting down a fresh coat of paint. In recent years, we improved the standard for paint we use, so it’s now easier on the environment without sacrificing durability or reflectivity. We’ve also been exploring new technologies to make things safer. Take inlaid durable pavement markings, for example. It might not roll off the tongue as easily as saying, “paint”, but inlaid durable pavement markings are an exciting (we think) development in road safety. Being inlaid means that the markings will be even with (or slightly lower than) the pavement, allowing snow plows and other traffic to pass over them with little to no contact. That fact alone makes them last longer, and being made from a durable plastic helps, too.

We’ve also had some “bright” ideas to help guide motorists safely along highways. By using LED lighting in our reflector signs, and imprinting patterned “rumble strips” along highway centre and shoulder lines, we’re lining the way to highway safety. We have also started using higher intensity sheeting around our signs. This super reflective material uses oncoming light to reflect at high levels, making it easier for everyone to see the sign.

19 comments on “Along the Lines of Safety”

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  1. We have friends who live in Santa Cruz and to get to the San Jose airport, they need to take Highway 17. That highway is really windy and very few lights. It’s a tough highway. However, California Highways have put cats eyes on the road. When it’s pouring and believe me in the winter it does, those cats eyes make it so easy to see. I’m not sure whether they are more expensive than paint, but they would be well worth it. Here on Salt Spring, very few of our roads have paint. Plus, very few lights. So our windy, dark roads make it really hard to see. On top of that, we have people who wear black and don’t face the traffic so makes it dangerous. I think that cats eyes on at least the main roads here would really help.

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  2. The road markings (both yellow and white lines) are terrible between Victoria and Sooke. They are particularly bad at night and in the rain. What concerns me, now that we live in Sooke, is the tremendous danger this poses. You say your first priority is “SAFETY.” I don’t believe you and no do hundreds of other people who have to drive this dangerous road. Please don’t refer me to another YuTube video. I have researched the options on paint and understand the differences. You just cannot leave this and hope for the best. PLEASE DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT..
    There is another issue, as well. We have an aging population that is living longer and many seniors drive day or night. Perhaps their eyesight is failing or not as keen as it once was. Please address this very serious issue.

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  3. The issue is that you TranBC does not acknowledge what the problem with current line markings, and why do you guys need to test materials???when rest of the world has already tested and using better line markings?? It is very hard to understand what you guys are doing there for me.

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  4. I commute between Chilliwack and Abbotsford. When it rains, especially at night, the road markings all but disappear. Non highway road markings are even worse in the rain.
    The reflectivity of the markings does seem poor compared to other countries.
    I come from the UK and have driven all over Europe and never noticed this issue until I came to BC.

    Reply
    • Hi Paul,

      Thanks for connecting with us here. Winter maintenance activities, such as snow plowing and sanding, cause significant seasonal “wear and tear” (aka erosion) on lane markings. As well, Federal environmental regulations have required us to move away from the resilient acrylic paints we’ve used in the past to paints with lower Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are easier on the environment. Unfortunately, paints with lower VOC’s don’t last as long as older style paint compounds. We are currently testing a variety of paint across the province in order to find one for BC weather. Here is a blog with more information on that test project: http://tranbc.ca/2015/09/25/looking-for-line-painting-that-can-take-a-pounding/#sthash.dSq2hr5C.FylgKmVS.dpbs
      Hope that this helps!

      Reply
      • Thanks for the reply, but the main issue to me is that the lines do not reflect light well enough. The lines are there and you can see them in the daytime. Come night, with some rain and they may as well not be. I’ve noticed other comments on the tranbc website alluding to the same.
        There’s no point developing paint that lasts for ever if it’s not very reflective.
        The oatmeal solution looks good but it’s never going to be used widespread due to cost.

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        • Hello again Paul,

          Apologies for the confusion. To clarify, the paint we currently use (and the paint we are testing) reflects light because it has tiny, specially-designed glass beads in it.

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          • But its not working, that’s the problem. You guys really need to acknowledge what the problem is. Go to the US you will know what 3 of us talking about. I’m sorry if you feel insulted but think about it. It’s just roads we are talking about here and we are concerning about the safety. Don’t you wanna save our kids future? Please, I even beg you, act quick I’m pretty sure people are dieing because of the issue.

  5. What is the best way to remove the yellow or white road paint from the fender wells, chrome and body paint on a vehicle, without harming the finish?

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  6. I would say that the BC highways are badly marked when it is raining as compared to other countries (UK and Netherlands). Even Ontario seems to have more reflective road markings. I hope the oatmeal paint comes to most BC highways asap.

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    • Hi Hanneke,
      Are you talking about a specific BC Highway? Some areas deal with different weather conditions and want to make sure we’re addressing your concern specifically.

      Reply