Tapping into road safety the 3M way

Retroreflective tapes are an essential tool in increasing the visibility of heavy vehicles and improving road safety. 3M Diamond Grade Reflective tapes are highly durable and deliver outstanding vehicle visibility that allow heavy vehicles to be seen earlier than unmarked vehicles, resulting in giving other drivers more time to react and manoeuvre safely in traffic.

The Australian Government has a long-term road safety vision of reducing road crash fatalities, however, most of our past road safety efforts in Australia have focused on countering illegal behaviours and imposing vehicle safety standards. While road safety can be achieved through focus on safer drivers and safer vehicles, the other equally crucial parameter is safer road infrastructure. Among the many infrastructure challenges that exist to reduce the number of crashes and fatalities, special emphasis should be given to heavy vehicles.

The governments, authorities, industry members and safety solution providers all need to work together to help Australia reduce death and serious injury on our roads because road safety is a shared responsibility. Data suggests heavy trucks and buses make up only 3.7 per cent of the vehicle fleet, yet they are involved in 16 per cent of all road fatalities, with around 39 per cent of fatal incidents occurring at night. Visibility of heavy vehicles is exacerbated at night especially in poor visibility conditions including rain, fog, dawn and dusk. However, some simple interventions can have a significant impact on road safety, particularly in relation to crashes involving heavy vehicles.

Studies conducted in recent times have concluded that the usage of retroreflective tapes on trucks can be effective in avoiding collisions, with significant reductions achieved in side and rear truck impacts. Data collected during one such study shows that the use of retroreflective tape under poor visibility conditions reduced overall rear collisions by 41 per cent and 37 per cent for side collisions.

When trucks, trailers and other large commercial vehicles are more reflective, they’re easier for other drivers to see at a distance, particularly at night and in inclement weather, thereby reducing the risk of accidents. A truck with outline reflective markings is recognised earlier than an unmarked truck because they help to define the total size of the truck to other road users. This gives other drivers more time to react and manoeuvre safely in traffic. As a result, these retroreflective vehicle safety markings are a requirement in many countries around the world since the early 1990s.

Conspicuity markings (aka contour markings) are also an economical way to introduce improved reflectivity on vehicles. The right product, along with the right application, can help a heavy vehicle really stand out at a relatively low cost. Multinational conglomerate corporation 3M has designed road safety solutions to fit all transport needs. Whether you need to add visibility to emergency vehicles, trucks and trailers, buses or rail cars, there’s a 3M product to meet those demands – all backed by local technical support and certified applicators helping you to comply with regulations and guidelines.

3M’s range of high-performance reflective tapes allows heavy vehicles to be seen earlier than unmarked vehicles. In addition, they are highly durable, easy to apply, and meet or exceed regulations and guidelines set out in the United Nations standards of conduct. The application cost of even such a high-standard conspicuity marking is low, while the safety improvements can be significant.

Today, standards for retroreflective truck visibility are specified but not mandated in Australia. The ADRs and the National Regulation currently only accepts the UN standard for conspicuity. The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has produced a technical advisory procedure for heavy vehicle visibility (available on the ATA website) to help operators understand the requirements set out in the UN Economic Commission for Europe Regulation 48.

About 3M
3M is dedicated to improving traffic safety and mobility on a global level by offering a portfolio of solutions to help families get home safely. For over 75 years, 3M has made roadways safer and protected drivers through its trademarked range of 3M Diamond Grade reflective tapes that allow heavy vehicles to be seen earlier than unmarked heavy vehicles, considerably reducing the risk of accidents and collision. Ever since the inception of its reflective signage technology, 3M has worked with government agencies globally to help many governments realise their long-term road safety visions.