A day and night difference for traffic safety.

July 26, 2016 3M Canada

retroreflective tailgate

The B.C. Ministry of Transportation’s New Tailgate Project Deploys 3M™ Vehicle Safety Markings Retroreflective Graphics in a Bid to Help Reduce Rear-End Collisions

How the BC MOT Identified a Gap in Safety Standards for Canadian Road Crews

Romantic, cultured and steeped in history, Europe often serves as a centre of inspiration for the world. As a popular vacation destination, many travelers who explore the land ‘across the pond’ return to their homeland fundamentally changed.

For Mark Pratt, Manager of Fleet Services for the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (BC MOT), his European experience would inspire him to embark on a new project to increase the safety of the fleet vehicles at work.

“[When on vacation in Europe] I noticed that highway maintenance/road inspection vehicles had highly reflective materials on their equipment,” he says. “It inspired me to think about the visibility of vehicles back in Canada and ask myself why we lacked similar markings.”

Crosstrek tailgate

Canadian Road Crew Vehicles Do Not Have Consistent Reflective Markings

Once he returned home, Mark explored how road crews were marked in Canada. What he found was a lack of consistency from region to region and no clear standard.

“In Europe – standards have been prevalent for a long time,” says Tye Lougheed, 3M Canada Sales Rep, Traffic Safety and Security. “Canada doesn’t really have a true standard, although we do have a reference point, each municipality has leeway to do their own thing, and under provincial guidelines, road maintenance is deregulated.”

BC MOT Receives Support to Increase Fleet Vehicle Safety with Reflective Graphics

With the aid of images of the EU/UNECE Regulation 48 (R48) decaled highway vehicles, Mark received unanimous support from construction managers and the Ministry Safety Officer to launch a project to increase the visibility of BC MOT fleet vehicles using reflective graphics on the tailgates.

Chevron Tailgate Graphics Elevate Visibility for BC MOT Fleet

Deciding on the exact design took careful consideration. After reviewing standards from around the world, the BC MOT decided to apply a red and fluorescent yellow-green chevron design.

Next, in partnership with their graphics provider, the BC MOT went to work to find the right reflective graphics to apply to 80 of their pickup trucks.

How the BC MOT Used 3M™ Vehicle Safety Markings to Overcome Application Challenges

As it would turn out, bringing the BC MOT’s vision to life would take some trial and error.

“The first vehicles we applied the sheets to were a challenge as they had multiple indentations in the tailgate. It took a couple tries to find the right material,” says Mark. “We started with a competitive brand’s 300mm wide rolls then cut and matched the chevrons as pictured in the EU Reg 48. However, we quickly discovered it was very time consuming, labour intensive and had the possibility of water infiltration along the many seams.”

Mark contacted both the supplier and Tye (3M) in order to find a product that they could fit to the tailgates.
“When I arrived at the BC MOT, I knew I had to get them a better product that not only adhered and conformed better, but also made application easier” says Tye. “We connected them with Sherine Industries, who helped them include all of the design elements they wanted, as well as a custom cut product that could make application easier and quicker.”

Sherine’s digital printing capability, coupled with 3M™ Vehicle Safety Markings Retroreflective Material hit the mark. Not only did it have the desired retro-reflectance, it proved pliable enough to mold into the indentations in the tailgate.

retroreflective tailgate on truck

The Grand Reveal: Retroreflective Tailgates to Help in Efforts to Reduce Instances of Rear-End Collisions

“It’s always rewarding to be able to help a client out,” says Tye. “Not just to provide them with the right product to help with their safety initiatives but also to connect them to graphics providers who can create that truly custom solution.”

According to Mark, the new design has been a hit amongst all those who see them.

“Our drivers are happy that we’re paying attention to their safety,” he says, adding, “And there has been interest in our program from the private road companies and other provinces. We have even had driver with vehicles that do not have the reflective tailgates ask to have their vehicle retrofitted with the product.”

As for his advice to anyone who may be considering deploying a similar project?

“Just do it,” he says. “It’s an idea to work through your safety program. Take a look at the exposure of your employees and equipment and then start your program to address the most vulnerable.”

Interested in More Information?

For more information on 3M Traffic Safety and Security, including how you can incorporate reflective materials like 3M™ Vehicle Safety Markings into your safety efforts, please contact your local 3M rep, commercial graphics installer or call 3M Canada at 1-800-364-3577.

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