Note – This article addresses ways to mark gates that are located on private property and do not open onto a DOT regulated road. For gates that open onto a road see our other articles on this site about MUTCD or Army Corp of Engineer gate marking requirements.
Gates and fences are designed to block or limit access to certain areas. Standard gates are expensive and automatic gates are very expensive. Needless to say, no one wants their gate to be struck by a vehicle. This is where reflective tape can help. When marking your gate or fence you have several choices of reflective tape in varying intensities and colors. You are going to want to make sure your gate is visible in the day, at night, close up and far away.
In the daytime color is the key. You need a bright color that will get peoples attention. Barricade tapes that are striped at angles are excellent in getting the attention of a driver. These tapes are available in an engineer grade as well as a high intensity grade. Also, they can be purchased in a red/white or orange/white combination. DOT tapes are also great for daytime visibility. They alternate white and red. You see these tapes used extensively on over the road trucks. We also have a gate arm tape that looks similar but has 16″ alternating colors. These striped tapes are like the barricade tapes but the stripes go up and down and not diagonally. DOT tapes are only available in the prismatic grade. (brightest) All of these tapes make your gate very conspicuous night and day.
If you prefer to use a single color and still want daytime visibility you can choose a colored engineer grade, high intensity or prismatic grade of tape. Red, orange, yellow, blue and green are available. Alternating colors is also an option. Engineer grade is bright at night, high intensity is brighter and Prismatic is brightest.
For visibility at night you can use the options above. However, you also have the option of using a tape that blends in with the gate. If your gate is white or silver or grey then a white engineer, high intensity or prismatic tape will blend and also be the brightest at night. White is always the brightest color. If you have a bronze or black gate and want the tape to blend in the daytime then you only have one choice. That is black engineer grade reflective tape. This tape is black in the day but reflects a goldish color up to a white color depending on the brightness of the light hitting it. Keep in mind that black reflective tape reflects at about 10 candela while a white engineer grade reflects at 75 candelas. Compare this with a prismatic tape that can reflect from 500 – 1000 candelas depending on the type. I have found that black is good for gates in very dark alleys where there is no competing light. If you do use black then you would want to use as much as possible.
Of all the choices above the safest in my opinon is the DOT tape or RGA Rail Gate Arm reflective tape. They get your attention in the day and are extremely bright at night. They are visible from thousands instead of hundreds of feet away.
If you have a gate that is required by law to have alternating red and white tape on it then you will want to use our RGA (rail gate arm) reflective tape. You can view an article on that tape by clicking here. The picture below shows the basic requirements for a Corp Of Engineers Gate.
I hope this article is helpful. If you have any questions you can email me or call me at 850-934-3157.
Steven Cole (Economics, MBA – University of West Florida , Business & Innovation – Stanford University) 24 years of experience in the reflective safety business. Specializing in vehicle accident and rear end collision reduction through increased visibility.