What is the difference between reflective and retroreflective chevrons?

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Are you looking for chevrons for your vehicle to comply with Chapter 8 of the Department for Transport Traffic Signs Manual? Do you know the difference between reflective and retroreflective materials?

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Reflective materials

Reflective materials reflect light waves that hit them, like a mirror. When light hits a reflective material, it will be bounced back at an angle; for example, when light shines through a window and hits the screen of a mobile phone, moving the phone to change the angle of the light hitting the screen changes the direction in which the light is reflected. This can form a fun game with cats or small children as they try to ‘catch’ the light reflected. Whilst Chapter 8 chevrons could be described as reflective, they are more accurately classed as retroreflective.

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Retroreflective materials

Retroreflective materials also bounce back any light that hits them, with one major and useful difference: retroreflective materials are specially designed to bounce light straight back at the same angle the light hits the material. This is achieved by making the material out of many tiny prisms or many tiny glass beads. This is no fun for playing with cats and small children, but very useful for Chapter 8 chevrons.

Why are retroreflective chevrons better?

When the headlights of an oncoming vehicle illuminate the chevrons on the back of a stationary vehicle on the carriageway, the light is reflected directly back. This reflects all the light back to the approaching vehicle, giving maximum visibility to the driver and giving them the best possible chance of avoiding the stationary vehicle. By comparison, reflective chevrons could bounce the light from the headlights upwards or sideways. This would depend on the exact angle between the headlights and the chevrons and could result in much lower visibility for drivers of oncoming vehicles.

How can you be sure you are buying quality materials?

Manufacturers of high-quality retroreflective materials are members of REMA, the Retroreflective Equipment Manufacturers Association. Chapter 8 chevrons are made using high-quality materials from REMA member companies and are made to fit your specific vehicle exactly.

Retroreflective materials are a brilliant innovation in road safety and are used on vehicles, road signs and even safety clothing. Wherever high visibility is important, retroreflective materials are keeping people safe.


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