Specifying the right pavement markings for roads and highways

With the right road marking specification, you can make a meaningful impact on the motorists that drive on your roads. Including high-performance pavement markings in your specifications will give you peace of mind that your roads will look good and perform great for years to come.

Road maintenance worker standing on an unmarked road.
The roads you want are waiting. We can help you get them.

Why quality road markings matter

Safety: motorists need reliable lane guidance to help keep them safe on roads – day or night and in all weather conditions.

  • Crash reduction: The increased brightness of high-performance road markings has been shown to reduce crashes, especially in nighttime¹ and rainy or wet conditions.²,³

    More time to react: Brighter pavement markings provide drivers more time to react, which becomes even more critical when drivers travel at higher speeds.⁴

    Safer for older populations: As populations age, brighter markings become even more important to keep drivers safe.⁵

    ADAS friendly: As more drivers rely on advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), bright, wet-reflective and wider markings will help ensure your roads are as advanced as the vehicles that travel on them.⁶

  • 32% reduction of wet-night crashes and 49% reduction of wet-night fatal-injury crashes.

    Study Summary: Safety Effects of Wet Weather Pavement Markings, 3M 2019.

How it works

Durable by design. Built for the long haul.

  • Info graphic depicting how 3M's microcrystalline ceramic optics and tough polyurethane topcoat work with a bead-filled polymer base and advanced pressure-sensitive adhesive to create an exceptionally durable pavement.

Advanced pressure sensitivity


Tough polyurethane


Exceptionally durable, bead-filled polymer


3M's tough, durable microcrystalline ceramic beads

Smart tips for specifying high-performance road markings

For a traffic engineer, the safety of the motorists on their roads is a top priority. Developing specifications for road marking materials that are applied to the roads is a critical component in helping provide safety. Here are factors to consider when developing specifications for your roadways:

  • Roadway at night with reflective pavement markings.
    Retroreflective levels and performance

    Specifying higher retroreflectivity levels and performance standards for road markings is critical for ensuring their performance at night and during inclement weather conditions.

    Road markings typically appear clear to motorists navigating roads during dry daytime conditions. However, as the sun sets and night falls, drivers rely on retroreflectivity for improved visibility of road markings to help them safely navigate the roadway.⁸

    As a means of promoting road safety the FHWA has issued provisions relating to maintaining minimum levels of pavement marking retroreflectivity. Pavement marking improvements are also eligible for up to 100% Federal-aid funding.

    Improved road markings are considered proven safety countermeasures by the FHWA, and can help reduce black spots. Increasing the brightness required in your road marking specifications can provide more consistent lane guidance allowing drivers more preview time and driving comfort which helps reduce crashes.⁹,¹⁰

  • Reflective road markings under wet pavement and inclement weather conditions.
    Retroreflective performance in inclement weather

    Road markings can disappear from the drivers view in wet, nighttime driving conditions, creating a dangerous situation.⁸

    Recent studies demonstrate that wet reflective markings are an effective countermeasure for reducing 32% of wet-night crashes and 49% of wet-night fatal injury crashes¹¹,¹² so consider wet retroreflective performance when developing a road marking specification.

    3M's recommended test method for retroreflectivity performance levels: E2832-12 for Wet Continuous, which involves a wetting apparatus that continuously wets the measurement area during measurement.

    For more information on ASTM test methods download our guide to understanding Pavement Marking Test Methods (PDF, 354 KB).


  • Pavement marking tape being installed on a roadway
    Long-term durability

    Extend the life of your road markings when you specify durable, high performance pavement markings. Longer lasting markings can help you reduce the costs associated with frequent replacement of faded and worn markings. Motorists will experience less road closures and your agency can benefit from reduced labor costs.

    When specifying high performance road markings, consider the traffic patterns, average daily traffic (ADT) and local weather conditions to achieve the best long-term performance on your roadways

    On observed projects, 3M™ Stamark™ Pavement Marking Tapes averaged above 100 mcd/m2/lux for 7+ years.¹³

  • Image of the downloadable 3M pavement markings application matrix.

    Find the right high-performance pavement markings to fit your needs

    Regardless of the climate or traffic volumes on your next project, we can help you choose the best 3M solution to deliver the desired level of all-weather retroreflective performance to help improve safety on your roads.

    View the 3M Pavement Markings Application Matrix to find the solution that will fit your needs based on your specific road conditions. It shows Remaining Pavement Service Life to Annual Daily Traffic (ADT), including recommended applications for edge lines, lane lines and spot enhanced delineation.

    Download the 3M Pavement Markings Application Matrix (PDF, 733.62 KB)

Enhancing your pavement markings are cost effective road safety improvements relative to other countermeasures.

The markings that make a difference

3M™ Stamark™ Pavement Marking Tape and 3M™ Connected Roads All Weather Elements are designed for long-lasting reflectivity—giving you what you need to help keep your road markings visible day or night.

  • 3M™ Stamark™ High Performance Pavement Marking Tapes
    3M™ Stamark™ High Performance Pavement Marking Tapes

    3M Stamark High Performance Pavement Marking Tapes set the bar for durability, lasting retroreflectivity and long-term value. 3M's wet reflective pavement marking tape Series 380AW received a Road Safety Innovation Award in the Infrastructure Improvement category¹⁴—and it’s the only road marking to have obtained the highest certification in night visibility and in rainy weather.¹⁵

    3M™ Stamark™ High Performance Pavement Marking Tape Series 380AW

    3M™ Stamark™ High Performance Tape Series 380IES

  • 3M™ Connected Roads All Weather Elements
    3M™ Connected Roads All Weather Elements

    3M Connected Roads All Weather Elements utilize some of the most advanced technologies to deliver true reflected color and optimized visibility for all weather requirements. They feature unique 3M microcrystalline ceramic beads which are more efficient than other glass-beaded optic systems for superior performance and can be optimized for both dry and wet roadway conditions.

    3M™ Connected Roads All Weather Elements

Related to pavement marking specifications


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