Retroreflectivity in the World of Traffic Signs



Example of Visual Nighttime Inspection

We all see traffic signs on all roads, which provide all types of information necessary for operating our vehicles safely. What many drivers do not know is that traffic signs are required to maintain a minimum level of retroreflectivity.

What is retroreflectivity? In simplest terms, it is the light that returns to the user from the light source, which in most cases is an automobile’s headlights.

Governmental agencies are required to ensure their signs meet or exceed retroreflectivity standards established by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). They accomplish this requirement by implementing an assessment or management methodology to ensure traffic signs adhere to uniform standards defined by the FHWA.

The two most widely used assessment methods are Visual Nighttime Inspection and Measured Sign Retroreflectivity. They are defined as follows:

  • Visual Nighttime Inspection is performed at night by a trained inspector from a moving vehicle with the headlights on low beam.
  • Measured Sign Retroreflectivity is measured by a retroreflectometer. These devices are typically very expensive and tend to be cost prohibitive for small agencies.

The three most widely used management methods are Expected Sign Life, Blanket Replacement, and Control Signs. They are defined as follows:

  • Expected Sign Life is measured from the date of installation of the sign by labeling and recording. There are many factors that affect a sign’s retroreflectivity like geographical area, the direction the sign is facing and type of reflective sheeting just to name a few.
  • Blanket Replacement is just what the name implies, in that all signs are replaced in a specified area. Some agencies segregate their city or county into sectors, with one sector getting replaced each year.
  • The Control Signs method is a group of signs normally maintained in a maintenance yard. They are erected at the same time signs are installed on the streets, and when they fail to meet the minimum standards, all signs associated with that control group are replaced.

Meeting the Minimum Retroreflectivity Standards established by FHWA is not an option…it is a requirement. For further information about upgrading to these standards, please contact Vulcan Signs today! 1.800.633.6845 |

#VulcanSigns #retroreflectivity #trafficsigns #transportationsigns #highwaysigns #fhwa #stopsigns #madeintheusa #foleyalabama #manufacturing

Welcome to Foley, Alabama | Vulcan’s Hometown


Vulcan began as a small sign manufacturer in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1935 and has continued growing for over 80 years. The first production facility was established in Foley, Alabama in 1968. The decision to move to Foley has proven to be the right one. We have an incredibly close working relationship with the city and are very proud of that. The current Mayor of Foley, Mr. John Koniar worked for Vulcan for many years beginning as a Sales and Product Manager and rising to Vice President of Mill Sales at the time of his retirement. He currently serves on our Board of Directors.


In honor of Foley’s recent Centennial celebration, a 52-foot clock and bell tower was erected in Foley Heritage Park and the plaque above was inserted into one of the cornerstone posts. It reads “Vulcan, Inc. – An employee owned company that expects Foley to be its home for the next 100 years.”


Proudly bearing the title of An Employee Owned Company, Vulcan has made it a priority to invest in the community in which our employees live and work. Our active involvement with the area Chamber of Commerce and other organizations such as The United Way of Baldwin County and local schools has strengthened our connection to Foley and its residents. In 1985, Cater Lee, Founder of Vulcan, Inc. initiated the Vulcan Scholarship Program for students beginning their college career in Engineering. Since its inception, Vulcan has awarded over $500,000 in scholarship monies to graduating seniors from Foley, Robertsdale and Gulf Shores High Schools. Our goal is to not only see our business continue to grow, but also to re-invest in the city and local community that we have been blessed to call home for the past 47 years.

#VulcanAluminum #FoleyAlabama #AlabamaGulfCoast #Manufacturing



Hitting the Pavement: Stories from Life in Sales


If you have been in sales for any length of time, you have plenty of stories from the road. Looking back, some stories probably make you want to laugh, some make you want to cry and some leave you thinking… I can’t believe that is actually how that went down. When our sales team hits the pavement, they always come back with some type of story to share. We have compiled a few of our favorites below. Hopefully they will provide some comic relief on this dreary winter’s day.

Meet the Soprano’s

I was traveling with my boss for a sales calls in New Jersey.  I had never been there before so my expectation of the locals was strictly based on the TV show, the Soprano’s.  I thought to myself – “It would be too perfect if the person we are meeting with is wearing a pinky ring.”  Well, my expectations were blown away when the gentleman walked out wearing a blue track suit and gold chain.  It couldn’t have been more perfect.

Cool Car, Tiny Back Seat

I was presenting to a very large gas company in Las Vegas, NV when after the presentation the gentlemen requested we all go to lunch. Now mind you my rental car was a Chevy Camaro and I told the gentlemen I could only fit one person in my car and the other would need to drive, but they insisted on riding in the Camaro nonetheless. So, the Director of Safety decides he will ride in the back seat and proceeds to climb in when all of a sudden he becomes stuck. In an attempt to assist him, the other gentleman begins pushing him but to no avail, he is definitely stuck. So with one big push he gets jammed through and lands in the very small back seat. As we head to lunch he begins to announce the intense amount of blood seeping through his very nice dress shirt and of course I panic knowing this has lost me the sale. But, we arrive at the restaurant and he heads to the restroom to get cleaned up and comes back with a very great attitude and only a very small scrape and we spend the next hour laughing at the situation. Lesson learned; don’t accept the free upgrade for the cool car when on a sales trip.

Punked by My Own Boss

I went to a trade show in Cincinnati, OH with several co-workers and we had a booth for the two day show.  As everyone who hosts a trade show booth knows, a whole day standing on your feet meeting and greeting can really make for a long day.  At the end of the first day, we all shut down the booth and were headed for our hotel.  We packed up and we were leaving along with everyone else.  So, I am heading through the conference center and hustling to beat the crowd to leave.  I am following my co-workers while trying to read my texts and we come up to a revolving exit door.  The flow through the door is pretty smooth, so I worked my way into the line and was about halfway through the exit when all of a sudden the revolving door came to a dead stop.  I looked like a bug on a car windshield when I hit the glass door face first.  I was panicked, not knowing exactly what happened, until I looked up and saw all my co-workers laughing.  So I peeled myself off the glass door and looked directly into the door slot in front of mine and saw my boss with his shoe wedged in the door and a cheesy grin on his face.  Wow! I was punked by my own boss…….

A Slight Detour through the Showers

My favorite sales story is calling on a particular State Department of Corrections.  Some of Plant 1’s bigger customers are State Prison sign shops who make a lot of signs for their State DOT.  This correctional shop is in a medium security prison.  After you check in through several security stages, an employee of the sign shop walks me through the prison to get back to the sign shop which is located in several out-buildings, but inside the fences.  Every once in a while they lock down certain parts of the prison we normally walk through and this forces us to take “unusual” paths.  Many years ago the most “unusual” path I ever had to take was through the showers.  Yes, I said the showers.  I had to walk down the middle of a large room with prisoners taking showers on either side with NO privacy and guards all around.  I kept my eyes straight ahead and NEVER made eye contact.  To this day, I am not sure if the Sign Shop guys took me this way out of necessity or just to mess with a poor salesman.  However, this particular state DOC remains one my best customers to this day; so I guess it was worth the shock!

That Will Be 25 Cents

I was in California for a sales visit.  I went to a service station for bottles of water.  The clerk asked if I needed a bag to which I said yes. The clerk responded, “That will be 25 cents.” California passed a law banning single use plastic bags. Next time I’ll think twice about saying yes to a bag.

“Warm and Sunny”

My travel mishaps always seem to revolve around the weather. Inevitably, weather is forecasted to be warm and sunny but it always turns to snow and ice!!  I have never missed a sales call as a result but I do slip and slide my way to the field offices on these days!

Dukes of Hazzard

In 2005 I was in St. Louis, Missouri for a few days calling on customers and was wrapping up my trip to get to the airport in plenty of time to return my rental car and catch my flight. On the way to the airport, one of the customers that I visited earlier that week called and asked if I could swing by and look at his artwork to make sure it would work for his needs. As I was heading to his office, it started raining hard and continued even after I left his office. By this time I was going to be cutting it very close to returning the car and catching my flight. I was driving very rapidly in a new 2005 Camaro and when I reached my exit for the airport it was a fairly hard turn to the right. I was obviously driving too fast to maneuver this curve and it must have looked like something out of the Dukes of Hazzard show when I flew off of a six feet embankment and landed in three feet of water. The car was flooded, I was flooded and all of my luggage was flooded. Moto of the story: Take care of the customer, drive safely and take care of yourself and always remember there is another flight out.


Vulcan Driveable Markers: One Product, Two Uses


The Vulcan Driveable Marker, or more commonly called DRV Marker, is a product manufactured by Vulcan that is sold by both of our sign divisions, Vulcan Signs and Vulcan Utility Signs. It is a fiberglass based composite marker developed to drive easily in all soil conditions, while maintaining flexibility. Standard lengths of the marker are 66” and 72”, with other lengths available. The DRV is comprised of 65% fiberglass and is the strongest fiberglass marker available on the market today. Other benefits of the DRV include:

  • Will not rust, rot or corrode
  • Remains stable in temperatures from -30 to +120 and will not embrittle in cold temperatures nor soften in heat
  • Superior strength and easy to drive in soil
  • Absorbs vehicular impacts and returns to original position
  • Ultraviolet inhibitors provide long-term product stability and color retention
  • Never needs painting, as color is the same throughout the marker

Will survive controlled ditch burns which often melt or destroy plastic markers

Even though both Vulcan Signs and Vulcan Utility Signs market this product, customers that purchase this item from the two divisions utilize it in very different ways.

Vulcan Signs’ customers utilize the DRV as a delineator post. The marker is commonly used in areas where traffic merges, as well as sharp curves in the roadway. Typically, a strip of reflective sheeting is applied to the DRV, in order to enhance nighttime visibility.

Vulcan Delineator

 Vulcan DRV Used As Delineator Post

Vulcan Utility Signs markets and sells the DRV as a marking solution for underground pipelines. After WARNING labels with all federally regulated information are screen-printed, one is applied to both sides of the DRV.

Vulcan Flexible Fiberglass Marker

Vulcan DRV Used To Mark Buried Pipelines

Vulcan’s unique design helps protect the decals from damage during installation or vehicle impacts, enabling the markers to have a longer field life. DRVs are available in a wide variety of colors, with custom colors available as well. The DRV also has an available anchor kit which is designed to secure the marker in loose, sandy or marsh type conditions.

Vulcan’s unique design includes recessed sides which protect the vinyl sheeting from damage during installation or vehicle impacts.

Flexible Fiberglass Colors

Vulcan also manufactures a specialized tool for installation of DRVs. Using the VF-105 Installation Tool, a worker can install a DRV in less than one minute.

Vulcan Flexible Fiberglass Driver

For more information or to place an order, please call 1.888.846.2728 or send us an email to