We Need Better Lines & More Reflectors

painted road lines for traffic islandHere's another complaint from the DriveSmartBC Inbox: "Please speak to the situation that I call the "Invisible White Lines" on our highways as soon as we get some rain and whilst driving in the dark. Night visibility in winter is terrible.

There are no reflectors on the highway edge like in Washington State. And don't let Highways tell you the lines are worn off by plowing as in the Okanagan we have had hardly any snow and there is no sand on the roads yet you can't see either the center line or the right side lines of the highways.

I have driven in BC for 50 years without an accident and the road visibility is terrible every year. I speak to many other people who have the same observation and complaint."

This driver has about 5 more years experience driving on BC highways than I do, but if I sit and consider the changes that I have seen over the years I can only agree with part of what has been expressed.

Solid White Shoulder Lines

The addition of solid white lines at the shoulder became widespread after I started driving. Ditto with the installation of more reflectors on the sides of the road and reflectors set into the center of the highway.

Durability of Painted Highway Lines

What I have noticed is a change in the durability of the painted lines. If I go for a walk near my home I can see flecks of yellow paint in the gravel of the road shoulder. Whether this is due to poor adhesion, temperature cycles or ploughing and sanding abrasion I can't say for sure, but it is probably all three.

Search for Durable Paint

The TranBC blog contains an article on the MOTI's quest for durable paint. Apparently environmental rules for volatile organic compound pollution ended the use of oil based paints in 2010 and the replacements were not as hardy.

They followed up with another article on a promising find in April 2017.

BC Pavement Marking Standards

If you are interested in the standards for paint required for highway marking, they are found in section 321 of the Standard Specifications for Highway Construction.

BC Highway Delineation Standards

Highway delineation requirements start at page 7.21 of the Manual of Standard Traffic Signs & Pavement Markings.

Adjusting Expectations

I have always found it difficult to drive in the rain after dark. Where the lines and delineations do not help, the only option that I have is to adjust my expectations to suit the conditions. For me, this means slowing down to a speed that I am comfortable with and making room for others that don't hold the same view.

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Have to agree the durability of the non oil based paints is no where near as good.

Another problem I see and this one is putting cost ahead of safety is only painting the roads once a year. By time one heads into winter the markings in several locations is non existent. There should be a spring and late fall application. Of course this will double the budget but I am sure would save lives.

Traffic volumes have quadrupled road paint is not as good, yet no increase in lane paintings and with our climate this just not work.

In some of our mountain passes we have been reduced to driving by Braille as the only lane marking one has is the centre and edge rumple strips.


After reading the comments by previous writers I can’t agree more. I experienced the same invisible lines in an area of the Kootenays where there was a accident that seriously injured a person not long ago.  As I live 10 km from the Washington State border, I can tell you that at night, the first thing you notice is that reflectors on both sides of this road allows to see corners a half kilometre ahead.  Much. Much safer.

Part of the answer regarding visibility lies in the 50 years of driving experience which likely puts this person into the 66 to 70 bracket. I’m pretty close to that and I’ve noticed a definite decline in ability to drive in the dark, especially if it is raining.

We (as drivers) need to accept some of the responsibility and if our eyesight has (99 percent chance it has) diminished due to age, we need to slow down and or make other arrangements for driving at night.

Regardless of road conditions, as we change in eyesight, reflexes, etc we need to adapt if we wish to continue driving.

Yes, I totally agree with your article on highway and road lines and markings. As we get older its harder to see on some nights too, especially in the rain.

Another comment on the paint that was used, the old oil based paints never hurt the environment to this day as far as I know.

Was there ever a study on it? Not likely. I can remember when I was a kid, we would go out to the Fraser Valley (Langley to Chilliwack) and all the side roads were gravel. All the used engine oils and heavier used oils went to oil the gravel roads to keep the dust down. So for to this day it has never hurt the environment.

I think part of the reason for poor line markings etc. on our highways is the contracting out for line painting. And of course the contractors will get the cheapest buy they can for paint  and do the painting lest often to save money for their own pockets. Further to this, we should go back to having the Government run the Department of highways.

There was a lot better maintaining of roads and bridges  when in the hands of the Dept. of Highways years back.

Also these LED HID lights are worse on a rainy night on the highways, too much glare and know dimming of the  lights when approaching an oncoming vehicle.  I thought it was against the law not to dim you headlights.  No one seems to care anymore from the drivers to the RCMP, ICBC and the Ministry of Highways.

Sorry to get off the main topic, but do agree we need better marking on our roads and crosswalks.

I can remember when I was a kid, we would go out to the Fraser Valley (Langley to Chilliwack) and all the side roads were gravel. All the used engine oils and heavier used oils went to oil the gravel roads to keep the dust down. So for to this day it has never hurt the environment.

Please provide references to support this statement.

Keeping in mind that you can't even own a property with an old heating oil tank on it, unless it's been removed and cleaned up, it's hard to believe this is true.

Heck, these days the major oil companies eagerly remove and replace the fuel storage tanks at gas stations before they ever leak, due to the massively expensive process of attemtping to remediate the land and protect the quality of the groundwater that they've previously had to deal with when they didn't act in time.

Because let's face it: anybody can make any kind of anonymous claim on the internet these days, but that doesn't mean a damn thing.

I can't support the no damage part, but public works used to show up at my dad's service station at the start of every summer and take all the used oil to put on the streets that were not paved. This would have been in the mid 1960s.

I try not to drive at night when it is raining. My eyesight is excellent, I have 20-20 vision and really, do not need glasses. Yet driving at night‎, in rain, with the light of on coming traffic I find it hard to see the white center line.

I tend rather to watch for the fog line, on the road side, not always possible.

I find it critical that drivers be taught to know where, the right front tire tracks, as much or more than the left front tire.

I find the majority of drivers here in Campbell River, hog the center of the road, because they do not know where the right front tire is tracking.

Add a dark rainy night to the mix, and you have, accidents.