Is your sign on the same wavelength?

March 15, 2016 3M Canada

Road with Construction Signs

When should you be concerned about enhancing road sign visibility? For many people, the first thought that comes to mind is “at night.” However, adverse conditions can affect visibility at any time – including dawn, dusk and on overcast days – meaning that enhanced reflective signage can be just as important during the day as it is as night.

Fluorescent colours work overtime to increase reflectivity

Not only are fluorescent colourants more visible because they are very intense, they also have a unique property that makes them appear different to the human eye compared to regular colours.

Normally, when light/energy leaves the sun, it travels in a wide range of wavelengths, some of them visible to the human eye, some not. When this light/energy eventually strikes a surface, some of it is absorbed by the object and some is reflected into the human eye, which interprets this reflected electromagnetic radiation as colour.

The power of fluorescence is the ability to take some of the invisible shortwave light/energy and re-radiate the energy as longer, visible light waves.

In short, fluorescent colours fluoresce, or “glow,” because they turn invisible waves of energy into visible waves of light.

Walking at cross-walk sign

Particularly effective for traffic signing

Because the natural light that reaches us at dawn, during evening twilight, and through overcast skies contains more of the shorter waves, fluorescent colours appear even more visible to the human eye under those conditions.

This is why fluorescent traffic signs are especially effective during adverse daytime driving conditions.

3M™ Reflective Sheeting: Fluorescence combined with high performance reflectivity

3M applies fluorescent colours to 3M™ Diamond Grade™ Reflective Sheeting.

The high performance reflectivity and superior angularity of Diamond Grade™ Reflective Sheeting, combined with the high visibility of fluorescent colours assures maximum visibility for traffic control signs in the places and at the times they are most needed.

Suggested uses are:

  • Fluorescent yellow for warning signs – product number 4081
  • Fluorescent green-yellow for school zones – product number 4083
  • Fluorescent orange for construction work zones – product number 4084

Details can be found on the 3M Website or contact 3M by phone 1-800-3M HELPS or email

Interested in learning more about 3M™ Reflective Sheeting?

For more information on 3M™ Reflective Sheeting, including how to locate a local representative and where to buy, call 1-800-3M HELPS or fill out the form below to have a rep contact you.


About the Author

3M Canada

[enBio=Across the globe, 3M helps companies and individuals succeed every day. All while contributing to true global sustainable development through environmental protection, corporate and social responsibility and economic progress. We are applying our science to make a real impact in every person's life around the world.],[enJob=Science. Applied to Life.],[frBio=Chaque jour, 3M aide les entreprises et les gens à réussir. Tout cela en contribuant au développement durable réel par le biais de la protection de l'environnement, la responsabilité sociale en entreprise et le progrès économique. Nous appliquons notre science afin de faire une différence réel dans la vie de chaque personne dans le monde.],[frJob=]

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