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What You Need to Know about DOT Conspicuity Tape

One of the products we sell here at Mytee is DOT conspicuity tape. This is a reflective tape product intended to be used on trailers in order to increase visibility. As new truck driver, you might question why this tape is used. The answer is simple: the law requires it. Having said that, let us delve more deeply into why the federal government has made use of the tape mandatory.

Also known simply as DOT tape, a roll of DOT conspicuity tape is a double-sided product with adhesive on one side and a highly reflective surface on the other. The reflective surface is intended to reflect the headlights of other vehicles during nighttime driving in order to make a dark trailer more visible. The idea is to reduce the number of serious crashes involving big trucks and cars.

Government Study Results

DOT conspicuity tape was not always required. In the late 1990s however, it was determined that steps had to be taken to increase the visibility of large trucks with the use of additional lights, reflectors, and conspicuity tape. In 2001, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted an analysis of crash data and estimated the use of conspicuity tape reduced the number of accidents and fatal injuries as much as 44%.

The study was conducted by analyzing crash data from Florida and Pennsylvania. Nearly 11,000 accidents were included in the study. NHTSA researchers concluded that, although using conspicuity tape does significantly reduce the number of crashes between large trucks and passenger vehicles, such crashes are not eliminated entirely. They further discovered:

  • Crashes involving flatbed trailers were reduced more than those involving dry vans
  • Applying DOT tape had the greatest benefit on dark roadways with little or no lighting
  • Applying DOT tape significantly improved trailer visibility during inclement weather – except for snow
  • DOT tape was most beneficial for avoiding crashes among drivers age 50 or younger.

The results of the NHTSA study were convincing enough that federal regulations made using the tape permanent. Every trailer now on the road must make use of the tape in strategic locations as determined by the regulations. Furthermore, DOT conspicuity tape must meet certain specifications as outlined by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 108 and DOT-C2 in order to be legal.

Limitations of Conspicuity Tape

As helpful as DOT conspicuity tape is, it does not eliminate all risk. In order for it to be as helpful as possible, it must be properly applied and in good condition. For example, dirty reflective tape loses its effectiveness as the amount of dirt and grime accumulates. Therefore, drivers have to take the time to clean the tape every now and again.

Wear and tear can also be a problem. When a piece of DOT tape begins to look old and worn out, it should be replaced as soon as possible. The good news here is that the tape is rather inexpensive.

As a truck driver, it is your responsibility to make sure all of your equipment meets federal standards for safety. When hauling your own trailers, purchasing and installing DOT tape falls squarely on your shoulders. When hauling trailers belonging to a shipper, the expense and labor is their responsibility. Nevertheless, you are still required to inspect the trailer for compliance before you pull out of the shipping yard. Don’t leave until it’s right.

DOT conspicuity tape is a good tool for reducing crashes between tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles. Make sure you use it correctly at all times. It could save a life.