Category Archives: Reflective Tape Applications

Various Applications for Retro Reflective Tape. Dumpsters, Loading Docks, Bollards, Vehicles, Signs, Fire Hydrants, and More.

Reflective Tape for School Bus Marking FMVSS 131 217

FMVSS 131 & 217 School Bus Reflective Tape Requirements – Online Reflective Tape Store

school bus reflective tapeVirtually all states mandate reflective markings on school buses.  Regulations concerning reflective tape are normally found within the regulation that deals with the rest of the bus as well.  (ie exits, seats, seatbelts, fire extinguishers, etc.)

Marking generally involves 2 inch prismatic reflective striping in a school bus yellow color down sides of the vehicle.  Also, 1 inch striping around exits.  A summary of the federal exit marking regulation is below.

FMVSS 131 & FMVSS 217

School Bus Regulation:

Each opening for a required emergency exit shall be outlined around its outside perimeter with a retroreflective tape with a minimum width of 2.5 centimeters and either red, white, or yellow in color, that when tested under the conditions specified in S6.1 of Standard No. 131 (49 CFR 571.131), meets the criteria specified.

  • 1″ strip used to mark side emergency exit windows
  • 1″ strip used to mark back emergency exit windows

school bus back markings reflective tapeschool bus side marking reflective

Private buses are not as regulated as school buses.  However, the same type of markings are recommended especially if the bus transports children.

school bus yellow reflective tape

Reflective Tape for MUTCD or Corp of Engineer Regulated Gates and Arms

Gate and Gate Arm Tape Requirements – (available here)

In 2009, the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices or MUTCD guide changed the way that gates and gate arms that open onto DOT roads or run along said roads are to be marked.  This change includes all gates, gate arms, draw bridge arms, toll arms and arms at railroad crossings.  Prior to the 2009 change gates and gate arms were not marked in a uniform manner.  For example, railroad crossing arms and draw bridge arms have generally been marked with striped and slanted red and white tape. (normally reflective)  A slanting design indicates that cars are to go to either the right or the left depending on the slant of the tape.  A slant like this //// means to go to the left and a slant like this \\\\ means to go to the right.  The problem is that at draw bridges or train crossing you are just supposed to stop.  That would be no slant like this | | | |.  This may not seem like a big issue to you and I but to the government and the creators of the MUTCD guide it is.  In the world of regulations, everything has to make sense and be uniform.

The tape pictured below is now used on all gates and gate arms across the country. The red and silver (white) sections are equal 16″ lengths and they do not slant.  The tape is a type 5 and requirements are type 2 or better. The gate arm tape can be purchased here.Gate arms on two way roads are required to be marked on both sides.  On one way roads only one side needs to be marked.  For a full article which includes the MUTCD guidelines you can click here.

The Corp of Engineers follow the same guidelines with the addition of two extra areas of yellow reflective tape on both sides of the gate. (see picture below)  We recommend either a school bus yellow V92 material or a high intensity type 3 material for the yellow object markers on both sides of the gate.

At intersections where there is already a stop sign, no additional object markers are required on the gate.  The diagram below shows the different methods of marking gates given their proximity.

Reflective Message / Word Panels for Work Utility Trucks and Vans

Reflective Message Panels – Available at our Online Store

In many situations, it is necessary to make a vehicle or trailer conspicuous and also convey a message.  In other words, sometimes the viewer needs more information about why they need to be cautious around the marked vehicle.  An example of this is a Wide Load sign or a Flammable decal.  The panels we sell come standard in a 6″ x 24″ size.  However, we can do almost any size you need and any message you desire.

The panels are made by overlaying red transparent letters over a prismatic fluorescent lime-yellow background.  The result is a very bright and rugged decal that is applied by simply peeling and sticking it onto a clean, dry surface.  Both the letters and background are highly reflective.  When you want to be seen day and night and also need to send other drivers a message then our reflective message panels are just what you need.

The message panels above and below are reflective and have the advantage of making a vehicle conspicuous and conveying a message.  Both the red letters and lime yellow background are reflective.

Reflective Tape for Cow, Cattle and Livestock Ear Tags

Image from UTAH DOT Website

Consider this.  A high speed collision with a medium sized deer can easily total a passenger car.  A collision with larger animals such as cattle can result in severe injuries or death to the passengers of the vehicle and are almost always fatal to the animal.  In all accidents involving animals, property damage can be substantial.  Accidents involving livestock can be avoided if the animals are visible to approaching cars.

Daytime accidents are less prevalent since most livestock are clearly visible in daylight and tend to move slowly.  This changes drastically at night.  Animals in roadways can be almost invisible, especially if they are dark in color.  The solution is simpler and cheaper than you would think.

Most cattle or livestock are marked with a plastic id tag.  These tags range from 2″ x 2″ to 2.5″ x 3″.  A simple rectangle or square of high visibility reflective tape placed on the back of the id tag can be seen clearly for hundreds of feet way. (high visibility = prismatic grade) A separate tag with reflective tape on both sides can also be used on the opposite ear. A fluorescent lime yellow, fluorescent orange, standard yellow or white color is recommended since these are the most visible.

This type of livestock marking is especially important in “open range” states.

Bulk tape or custom shapes can be purchased at or .  The reflective shapes site sells only prismatic grade tape (Reflexite V98 Conformable Prismatic).  If you go to you would want to look for the V92, V82, V97, V98 or SOLAS Reflexite material.   These can be seen from much farther away.

Retro Reflective Tape for Horse, Cattle and Livestock Trailers

Reflective Tape for Horse and Livestock Trailers – Online Store

For Pre-Made Horse Trailer Reflective Kits, go to .

Horse and livestock trailers need to be seen day and night.  Because of the cargo they carry any collision can be catastrophic.  It is for this reason that they need to be equipped with bright reflective tape.  Standard DOT tape like the type seen to the left is recommended for the lower parts of the trailer.  For other parts of the trailer several types of reflective tape can be used. Marking the entire outline of the trailer makes it much more visible.  Instead of a slim 2″ line of reflective dot tape they have an entire outline to see.  This makes a huge difference especially at night.

DOT tape is prismatic and very bright.  For the upper portions and back of the trailer you can use the same DOT tape or less expensive tapes. A prismatic tape like a Reflexite V92 would be the closest match.  The image below shows our prismatic V92 tapes.  They are similar to DOT tapes but in different colors.

If you are wanting a bright tape but want to save a little money then our high intensity type 3 tapes below are very effective.  This type of tape is used for road barrels, traffic cones and barricade applications.  It reflects at about 250 candelas for the white.

Our least expensive reflective tape is our Engineer Grade type 1.  It is the most common reflective film.  It is used for road signs, fire engines, ambulances, etc..  It is also conformable so if you have some uneven surfaces this tape will mold and conform better than other films.  It is the same type of tape used on car tags.  White is the brightest followed by yellow.

For ultimate visibility day and night for the rear of your horse trailer you can use our fluorescent lime yellow and red V98 material.  We have it in shapes and also in rolls.  It is prismatic and very bright and is also conformable.  This is our top of the line film.  The blue, white, red and fluorescent lime yellow are pictured below.  Below that is a picture of our diagonals that can be used to form chevrons or basic diagonal striping down the side of the trailer.  This is very effective at getting attention day and night.  Fire departments use this type of tape on their vehicles.

You can purchase V92 prismatic tape at www.reflects-light.

V98 Conformable reflective and the diagonal shapes can be purchased at

High Intensity reflective tape and engineer grade can be purchased at

Reflective Tape for Gates and Fences (Non MUTCD)

Reflective Tape for Automatic Gates, Standard Gates and Fences – Online Store

Prismatic White Reflective Tape

Note – this article addresses ways to mark non MUTCD gates.  These would be gates on private property that do not open up onto a DOT road.  For MUTCD type gate marking information Click Here.

Gates and fences are easy targets for unsuspecting or inattentive motorists and therefore need to be clearly visible at night.  Because they are in the flow of traffic and often unexpected, gates and fences should be equipped with bright reflective tape that can quickly and effectively get a drivers attention.

Fortunately, there are several types and colors of reflective tape that can solve visibility problems related to gates and fences.  The picture below shows a gate in the daytime with no tape installed. (upper left)  The center top shows the gate with orange engineer grade reflective tape installed and then to the right is the same gate at night under car headlights.  The bottom of the picture shows a black gate with black reflective material installed.  It is invisible in the daytime but appears white or goldish at night in car headlights.  (note-black is the least reflective tape and is best used in very dark areas like alleys where there is no competitive lighting)  With that being said, we have a specialty page just for Black Reflective Tape with 3 choices,  Bright, Brighter, Brightest.

As you can see from the pictures above one way of increasing the visibility of a gate or a fence is simply to outline it in bright reflective tape. This can be done with any number of colors and intensities of tape.  Engineer grade is the least expensive and prismatic is the brightest and also the most expensive.

While there are many choices for color and type when it comes to reflective tape one thing is for certain.  The brighter the tape day and night the better.  With this in mind one suggestion is the use of fluorescent yellow and red like what you see on fire trucks. The picture to the left shows rolls of these two colors and you can see why they would be highly conspicuous day and night.  You can either alternate them or cut diagonals and create chevron patterns like you see on the backs of fire trucks.

The two tapes below are also excellent choices because of their alternating design.

Reflective Tape for Roll Off Trash, Shipping Containers, Dumpsters

Reflective Tape for Dumpsters and Roll Off Trash & Garbage Containers – Online Store

Dumpsters are often placed in dark areas and can be a hazard for motorists.  Likewise, roll off trash containers can also be a hazard in that they are often placed on streets or in areas that are normally clear of obstructions.  In other words, people do not expect them to be there and do not know to look out for them.  Bright reflective tape can increase the visibility of a dumpster or roll off trash container and prevent accidents. A bright colored tape will insure that visibility is increased both day and night. The picture below shows a dumpster with white reflective tape installed.  Daytime visibility is increased only a little but as you can see, night time visibility is greatly increased.

The picture below shows a roll off container with three types of reflective tape installed.  One is an alternating pattern DOT tape one is a solid color red, and the third is a bright yellow tape. By outlining the entire container a driver is able to determine what the object actually is from farther away.  If you only use one strip of tape or just a few small pieces then a person will know that something is ahead but will have to get much closer to make out what the object is.

Many counties will have ordinances that require containers or dumpsters to be marked with reflective tape.  They will have requirements like “Dumpster will have reflective tape on corners.” or “In addition, dumpster shall have reflective tape on the ends”.

Here is another quote from an ordinance in Clinton City, UT.

(1) Nighttime markings, dumpsters to remain in the street after sunset shall:

  1. Be marked with reflective tape, at least six (6) square inches in size, located between 36 and 48 inches above the bottom of the dumpster on each corner of the dumpster; or,
  2. Have approved traffic barricades located at each street side corner.

Here is an excerpt from the City of Williamsport Dumpster application: “Applicant is responsible for placement of safety cones OR reflective tape on and around the dumpster.”

Cities and counties consider making dumpsters and containers visible a priority.  An unmarked container or dumpster can create a tremendous legal liability for the owner. The small amount that you spend on reflective tape is definitely money well spent.

Red and fluorescent yellow alternating reflective tapes are very effective at getting peoples attention.  This is why this color combination is used for chevrons on fire trucks.  The picture below shows a Reflexite V97 and V92 combination.  This would be one of the brightest tapes that you could use.  The next most visible would be DOT tape which is the same tape you see on tractor trailer rigs.  

If you want to spend less money but still maximize visibility you can use a high intensity type 3 reflective tape for your dumpster or roll off trash container.  The picture below shows the various colors.  Alternating colors is effective but single color strips are also fine.  Covering all the corners is a very good idea.

Engineer grade tapes are the most affordable reflective tapes.  They come in a variety of colors and are about the brightness of a car tag.   For close up applications they provide plenty of reflectivity.  This type of tape would be fine for areas where cars are approaching the container at a slow speed.  A parking lot would be a good example of this.  For applications where the container needs to be seen beyond 500 feet a high intensity or prismatic tape is recommended.

Every type of reflective tape can be found at

Engineer and High Intensity Grade Reflective can be found at

Very bright prismatic tapes by Oralite (formerly Reflexite) can be found at

Reflective Tape for Work Zones (Temporary Traffic Control)

Reflective Tapes for Work Zones or Temporary Traffic Control Zones – (online store)

This article focuses on the reflective tapes and sheeting used for various applications within work zones or temporary traffic control zones.

A “Work Zone” is defined as an area of a traffic-way where construction, maintenance, or utility work activities are identified by warning signs, signals, indicators, and transport devices that mark the beginning and end of the work zone.  A work zone extends from the first warning sign, signal, or flashing lights to the END ROAD WORK sign or the last traffic control device applicable to that work activity. Work zones can also include roadway sections where there is ongoing, moving, work activity such as lane line painting.

The latest MUTCD (Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices) outlines the requirements for marking work zones.  The guidelines are detailed and provide specific instructions and diagrams as to how to set up a compliant work zone area.  The goal of the new guidelines is to minimize traffic accidents and fatalities in and around work zone areas.  Components of a work zone include the following:

  • Signs to designate the beginning and end of the work zone.
  • Orange and White Road Barrels.
  • Traffic Cones
  • Flashing Arrow or Message Signs
  • Tubular Markers and Delineators (Channelizing Devices)
  • Temporary Lane Separators
  • Arrow signs to designate lane shifting.
  • Temporary Traffic Control Signals
  • Type I, II and III Barricades
  • Vertical Panels
  • Temporary Pavement Markers
  • Temporary Pavement Marking Tape
  • Traffic Control Barriers (movable barriers)
  • Crash Cushions
  • Rumble Strips
  • Screens (to block visibility into the work zone)
  • Floodlights and Warning Lights
  • Temporary Raised Islands
  • Detectable Edging for Pedestrians

In addition to the devices above, work zones or traffic control zones also contain workers and work vehicles.

We carry several types of reflective tape that can be used to mark traffic control devices as well as work vehicles.  These are

  • Flexible High Intensity Barrel Tape
  • Reflective Traffic Cone Collars
  • Pre-Striped Slanted Reflective Tape
  • DOT Truck Tape
  • Temporary Pavement Marking Tape.
  • Raised Pavement Markers

Flexible High Intensity Tape for Barrels and Delineators (4″& 6″)- flexible high intensity tape is a specially made product that is able to withstand an impact and bounce back to its original shape.  (ASTM D4956 Type III) This makes it ideal for applications like road barrels or delineators. This material is available for barrels in 4″ and 6″ widths and in white, yellow or orange. Keeping fresh tape on the barrels will insure that they remain compliant with regulations.  The MUTCD manual as well as your State DOT can give you more insight as to how to mark your particular barrels properly.  Because this material is very bright and very conformable it is great for a variety of other applications where intensity and flexibility are crucial.

Reflective Traffic Cone Collars are cut from the same material that we mentioned above (flexible high intensity – D4956 Type 3). Traffic Cones undergo even more punishment than barrels in work zones which is why a reboundable tape needs to be used.  Traffic cone collars are cut with a curve in them so that when you wrap them around a cone they come out straight.  To apply the collars you simply position the strip on the cone with the backing on it, tape one end with masking tape to create a hinge, begin peeling the backing off starting at the hinge and wrap the collar around the cone.  The hinge insures a straight application.

Pre-Striped Reflective Barricade Tape (engineer and high intensity grades) – reflective barricade tape is used to call attention to a work zone area and to designate which way traffic should go to get around the area.  Orange and White striped tape is used for work zones while red and white designates dead end roads are areas where roads or bridges are washed out.   Engineer grade is sufficient for certain areas whereas high intensity is required for others.  Your inspector can let you know which intensity tape you need to use.  A tape that slants downward to the right directs traffic to the right.  A tape that slants downward to the left directs traffic to the left.  For certain barricades you would use a one slant on one side and the opposite on the other.  A type one barricade like you see used over manholes is an example of this.

Reflective Tape for Work Trucks – trucks that work within work zones need to be clearly marked so that they can be seen day and night.  Red and White DOT reflective tape is required on tractor trailer type trucks.  This regulation is applicable to all tractor trailers or semi trucks whether they are used in work zones or just on the road.

Many of the trucks and equipment used in work zones do not fall under the federal regulation requiring DOT tape.  However, due to the fact that they either move slow or are stopped around fast moving traffic, it is often more important to have them marked clearly so that they can be clearly seen day and night.   A common pattern for fire apparatus is the chevron pattern pictured above.  This pattern consists of alternating yellow and red striping that slants outward and downward at 45 degree angles.  Since work zone vehicles do not fall under the same regulations that fire apparatus do they are often able to use different color combinations.  The most popular material is our Reflexite V98 tape.  It is prismatic and very bright and is also conformable which makes it a perfect choice for work vehicles.

Temporary pavement marking tape is also used extensively in work zones to mark temporary traffic lanes.  Lanes are required to be marked at all times so when a lane is temporarily diverted a new lane must be created.  When work is complete, permanent lines can be put down. We carry a foil based tape that is designed to create temporary lines on pavement.  It is easy to install and simple to remove.  To install the tape you lay it on a clean, dry surface and press it in with a rubber tire to conform it to the surface.  To remove the tape you can peel by hand or heat the tape with a torch.  (the heat vaporizes the adhesive and removes the tape)  The tape most often used for temporary stripes is our Wet Reflective or Premium Grade.  It is much more reflective and continues to reflect well even in wet conditions.

Raised Pavement Markers  are reflective markers that are used on road ways to mark lanes and notify drivers when they drift over a line.  At night, car headlights cause them to light up.  When lanes are temporarily moved, new markers should be put down.  For work zones the marker color will most likely be white or yellow and in some cases white/red or yellow/red.  A butyl pad can be used for temporary applications.

Reflective Striping Tape for Work and Utility Vehicles

Reflective Striping Tape for Utility or Work Vehicles / Trucks – Online Store Continue reading Reflective Striping Tape for Work and Utility Vehicles