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Interpretation Letter 3-196(I) - Splatter Markings

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U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration

400 Seventh St., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20590

July 19 , 2006

In Reply Refer To: HOTO-1

Mr. David Jones
7079 Mid Oaks Avenue N
Stillwater, MN 55082

Dear Mr. Jones:

Thank you for your July 1 e-mail to Mr. Hari Kalla of this office, requesting an interpretation of Part 3 of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) regarding the use of pavement marking systems that consist of clumps or droplets of material with spaces of bare pavement between the material droplets. These pavement marking systems (sometimes referred to as "splatter markings") form lines that appear to be solid (fully covering the underlying pavement) when viewed from the driver's position in a vehicle and, because of the height of the clumps, the markings can provide increased wet night visibility.

These types of markings were first reviewed by this office about two years ago and, as a result, we issued Official Interpretation number 3-174 (I) titled, "Continuous Line Segment Determination" in December of 2004. That interpretation found that there was insufficient information available at that time to judge whether these types of markings could perform as a solid or continuous marking and not be confusing to drivers.

In the intervening time since that interpretation, additional experience has been gained with these marking systems and they have been reviewed by the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. That organization found these types of markings to be generally acceptable and has recommended that clarifying text be added to the MUTCD as supporting information. We concur that these "splatter markings" systems are suitable for use by agencies as pavement markings, without requesting experimentation approval, as long as the markings appear to form a continuous line segment from the driver's perspective and as long as the markings meet the agency's other pavement markings requirements and specifications. The key is that agencies must review particular markings systems individually to assure that they are suitable for the intended use.

Thank you for writing on this subject. If you have any questions, please call Mr. Scott Wainwright of our staff at 202-366-0857. Please note that we have assigned your request the following official interpretation number and title: "3-196(I) - Splatter Markings." Please refer to this number in any future correspondence.

Sincerely yours,

/s/ Anthony T. Furst

Anthony T. Furst
Acting Director, Office of Transportation Operations