NHTSA Rules for Reflective Markings on Trucks and Trailers

Visibility is a very important component of safety, which is why emergency workers, construction crews and pedestrians are all advised or even required to wear reflective clothing. Since 1992, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA has put in place rules requiring trucks and tractor trailers to be marked with reflective tape to make them more visible on the road. For trailer manufacturers, railroad and truck repair shops, and trucking fleet owners, it is important to be aware of these rules and to know what size trucks must be marked with tape.

How trailer reflective tape contributes to road safety
Visibility can make a big difference in road safety. That’s why road signs like stop and yield signs are designed in contrasting colors such as red and white and yellow and white. These can be seen even at night or in conditions of low visibility due to bad weather like fog, rain or snow. Emergency workers, road and construction crews and pedestrians and dog walkers all wear reflective gear for the same reason: to make them more visible to traffic and thereby increase their safety. This is the reason why there are Department of Transportation or DOT requirements for trucks and tractor trailers to have red and white reflective tape on their rear and both sides.
This makes them more visible to other traffic, especially if they are parked at the side of the road at night. It also helps other traffic to see and avoid slow-moving trucks and trailers. Improving visibility through the use of reflective tape can reduce collisions by as much as 29%, according to the NHTSA. It’s important for all concerned with truck safety and repair to be aware of these regulations and details like what size trucks must be marked with tape.

Federal law requirements for reflective tape
In 1992, the NHTSA outlined the requirements for conspicuity tape on trucks and tractor trailers. This increases road safety by preventing other vehicles from rear ending slow moving or parked trucks. According to these rules, all trucks that are over 80 inches wide and 10,000 pounds in weight must be marked on the rear and sides with reflective tape or some other means of making them more visible on the road.
Reflective trailer tape needs to be visible from a distance to approaching vehicles. DOT certified reflective tape has alternating red and white stripes. For trailers and trucks, 2″ wide DOT C2 Reflective tape is used. Such tape is also used for emergency vehicles and railroad cars. Reflective sheeting or reflex reflectors may also be used instead of tape. It should be fixed to the sides as well as the rear of the trailer or truck.

Increased visibility means greater safety on the roadways. For trucks and tractor trailers, this can be achieved through the use of reflective tape or sheeting. DOT rules define the location, width and coloring of reflective materials to be placed on trucks, railroad cars, and emergency vehicles. They also define what size trucks must be marked with tape and the kind of tape to be used. The use of reflective tape can greatly reduce the incidence of collisions of other vehicles with trucks and tractor trailers.

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