Drivesmart column: We need better lines and more reflectors

What I have noticed is a change in the durability of the painted lines.

By Tim Schewe

Here’s another complaint from the DriveSmartBC Inbox: “Please speak to the situation that I call the ‘Invisible White Lines’ on our highways as soon as we get some rain and whilst driving in the dark. Night visibility in winter is terrible.

“There are no reflectors on the highway edge like in Washington State. And don’t let Highways tell you the lines are worn off by plowing as in the Okanagan we have had hardly any snow and there is no sand on the roads yet you can’t see either the center line or the right side lines of the highways.

“I have driven in B.C. for 50 years without an accident and the road visibility is terrible every year. I speak to many other people who have the same observation and complaint.”

This driver has about five more years experience driving on B.C. highways than I do, but if I sit and consider the changes that I have seen over the years I can only agree with part of what has been expressed.

The addition of solid white lines at the shoulder became widespread after I started driving. Ditto with the installation of more reflectors on the sides of the road and reflectors set into the centre of the highway.

What I have noticed is a change in the durability of the painted lines. If I go for a walk near my home I can see flecks of yellow paint in the gravel of the road shoulder. Whether this is due to poor adhesion, temperature cycles or plowing and sanding abrasion I can’t say for sure, but it is probably all three.

As you can imagine, keeping our highways properly marked or adding improvements must be a very large job.

The TranBC blog contains an article on the MOTI’s quest for durable paint. Apparently environmental rules for volatile organic compound pollution ended the use of oil based paints in 2010 and the replacements were not as hardy.

They followed up with another article on a promising find in April 2017.

If you are interested in the standards for paint required for highway marking, they are found in section 321 of the Standard Specifications for Highway Construction.

Highway delineation requirements start at page 7.21 of the Manual of Standard Traffic Signs & Pavement Markings.

I have always found it difficult to drive in the rain after dark. Where the lines and delineations do not help, the only option that I have is to adjust my expectations to suit the conditions. For me, this means slowing down to a speed that I am comfortable with and making room for others that don’t hold the same view.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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