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Coming Soon to a Road Near You: Brighter Lane Markings

A first-of-its-kind US safety rule aims to upgrade pavement paint to help drivers — and autonomous vehicles — stay in their lanes. 

Can brighter road markings make safer streets?

Can brighter road markings make safer streets?

Photographer: StephanHoerold/E+ via Getty Images

US motorists do only a quarter of their driving at night, but roughly half of all deaths on the road take place after dark. The traffic fatality rate spikes after the sun goes down, peaking in the hours after midnight. Most of those deadly crashes involve a roadway departure — vehicles leaving their lane, crossing the center line or driving off the edge of the road.

A new rule from the Federal Highway Administration aims to make those lines brighter. It sets, for the first time, a minimum standard for the retroreflectivity of pavement markings, or the amount of light they must reflect back to roadway users in dark and dry conditions.