Driver Understanding of Red Retroreflective Raised Pavement Markers

In the United States, the use of red retroreflective raised pavement markers (RRPMs) has been traditionally reserved to mark wrong way direction on one-way roadways. There are some agencies such as the State of Hawaii and surrounding U.S. territories that use red RRPMs on undivided highways to mark wrong way direction on two-way roadways (the red RRPMs are installed on the far edge line). This application is used in areas with frequent tourists from left-hand drive countries. The red RRPMs are used to remind the tourists that they are driving in the United States, which is a right-hand drive country. When traveling in the correct direction on these undivided highways, the red RRPMs are visible during nighttime conditions. This has raised concerns regarding current practices and drivers’ understanding of the red RRPMs. This study investigated drivers’ understanding of red RRPMs as traditionally used (i.e., to mark wrong way direction on one-way highways) and as used in unique applications (such as described above). A survey was administered to almost 200 participants. This survey featured five different roadway configurations, each with four different marking patterns. Survey participants were asked several questions aimed at determining their understanding of the markings and markers while watching the video on the laptop computers. Three participant groups were targeted for the surveys: drivers from left-hand drive countries, drivers from Hawaii, and drivers from right-hand drive countries. The findings of the survey show that drivers do not become confused when red RRPMs are used on undivided highways. Furthermore, the understanding rate of drivers from left-hand drive countries was always improved when supplemental red RRPMs were included on undivided highways. The findings also show that red RRPMs do little to help drivers understand that they are traveling the wrong direction on one-way divided highways. In areas where driver confusion may be a problem, the findings show that directional pavement marking arrows provide much better means of communication to all drivers. Based on these findings, it has been recommended that the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) language be reworded to allow for red RRPMs on undivided highways. However, additional emphasis should be provided such that directional pavement marking arrows are used in locations where driver confusion regarding direction of travel may be a concern.

  • Record URL:
  • Corporate Authors:

    Texas Transportation Institute

    Texas A&M University System
    3135 TAMU
    College Station, TX  United States  77843-3135

    Federal Highway Administration

    Central Federal Lands Highway Division, 12300 West Dakota Avenue
    Lakewood, CO  United States  80228
  • Authors:
    • Carlson, Paul J
    • Miles, Jeffrey D
  • Publication Date: 2006-11


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 55p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01746826
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: FHWA-CFL/TD-06-008
  • Contract Numbers: DTFH68-05-X-00012
  • Created Date: Jul 20 2020 4:37PM