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Contrast Striping Being Used To Help Utah Drivers, Autonomous Cars Stay In Lanes

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – If you have trouble seeing the lines on Utah roads, you’re not alone.

Monday on KSL 5 News at 10PM, the KSL Investigators looked into what the Utah Department of Transportation is doing to address concerns from drivers that lane lines seem to be slowly vanishing and can appear downright invisible in certain conditions.

UDOT says it’s investing in new technologies aimed at helping modern drivers as well as future “drivers.”

Self-driving cars look at those lines, too, and need the contrast – “a good clean, sharp differentiation between the surfaces,” says UDOT director of traffic and safety Robert Miles.

On some roads it’s easy to accomplish. On a back asphalt surface, Miles says a white lane line tends to be visible. But the roads aren’t always that dark. Much of it is more of a gray concrete and the white lines don’t ‘pop’ as much off the neutral road color.

Road engineers have come up with a solution: contrast striping involves putting a black edge on either side of the white stripe.

“It is intended to go down on a concrete surface to help highlight the market itself,” Miles said.

While contrast striping is the method UDOT is using right now, Miles says they are closely monitoring the automated car industry. He predicts that future road markings may be laced with RFID microchips that self-driving cars will be able to see perfectly.

“We don’t know who our future users are going to be completely,” he said.

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