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Why use reflective fluorescent signs?

diamond grade signs
Twilight can be among the most visually challenging time for drivers — they need all the warnings they can get.

Fluorescent signs are just aluminum signs with an extra sheeting of fluorescent coating applied over them. Here's how fluorescent signs work.

Fluorescent materials takelight from a light source, like the sun or headlight, and reflect out visible light at a higher frequency than it receives. Therefore, fluorescent signs are eminently more visible in low light conditions (like dusk, or bad weather) than non-reflective signs. Yet even in well-lit conditions, fluorescent signs stand out more. Moreover, fluorescent signs are better than ordinary signs because they enhance drivers' ability to comprehend the sign from greater distance — vastly reducing accidents. In fact, the Department of Transportation (DOT) forbids non-reflective signs in their Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) because non-reflective signs have such poor visibility at night. In fact, many cities are scrambling to meet the DOT reflectivity standards which must be implemented by 2018.

Fluorescent signs are extremely useful on streets and roads where the risk of accidents is much greater: such as on busy highways, before intersections, at railroad crossings and on rural roads. The latter especially because rural roads are often the least lighted. Not to mention the fact that fluorescent signs, such as reflective housing numbers, are instrumental in assisting emergency personnel locate residents and businesses. The precious seconds wasted trying hopelessly to find one's way in the dark could potentially diminish the effectiveness of emergency response (i.e. ambulances and police). In fact, now more than ever, with the aging population here in the United States it can't hurt to have signs with greater visibility.

Although fluorescent signs are slightly more expensive than non-fluorescent ones, but the extra cost yields much greater safety and could save lives. For the cost-conscious consumer, there are varying levels of fluorescent signs with some have a higher concentration of fluorescent materials. The least concentrated is usually termed "engineer grade" and is ideal for small, quiet streets. This level of fluorescence is the bare minimum accepted by most municipalities. Medium-fluorescence signs are called "high intensity grade" and are three times as reflective as "engineer grade." The highest concentration of fluorescent materials can be found in 3M Diamond Grade signs with ten times the amount of reflectivity of engineer grade signs. Remember this motto when you're choosing your fluorescent sign: the less lighted the area, the greater the fluorescence needed in your sign.

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