Roll of containers for trash and debris, dumpsters, and trash cans all present a danger to other vehicles. Roll off containers are often deployed right in the street. Dumpsters are often near where cars go around buildings. And trash cans are placed at the edge or in vehicle traffic once or twice a week. So the goal is to make these large objects visible both day and night so that a collision can be avoided.
When marking objects like roll off construction debris containers and dumpsters, it is important to apply reflective tape so that it creates an outline. By outlining objects to be seen at night, a viewer can quickly identify what the object is and make the necessary adjustments to avoid a collision. This is true of any object you wish to make more visible. If only a couple of rectangles of reflective tape are used on a construction debris container for example, the viewer will know that something is ahead, but will not know what it is until they get close. This is not ideal. It is better for them to identify the object as a large trash container while they are far away, when there is plenty of time to react.
Ordinances Governing the Marking of Containers
If you check your city of counties ordinances pertaining to roll off containers or dumpster placed in or around traffic, you will often find requirements like the one below from the City of Gloucester, NJ. (note – NJ is strict about marking containers)
Remember, as the renter or owner of the container, you are responsible for maintaining its visibility, and liable if anyone hits your container. This is true whether there is or isn’t an ordinance requiring the container be marked. Below is an excerpt that goes along with the ordinance above. As you can see, there are penalties for violating an ordinance.
Here is another example of an ordinance regulating containers and specifying how they should be marked. This one if for the City of Savannah GA.
*****Dumpsters/containers next to roadway shall be provided with reflective red and white tape diagonally striped six inches (6″) in width and twenty-four inches (24″) in length (as a minimum) to be located at each corner on the top side of dumpster/container. *****
Here is one from Warren, PA – (1) That said unit is made clearly visible through use of construction cones, lighting, and/or reflective tape.
And one from the City of New Orleans –
- Safety markers are required on each end of the dumpster.
- No less than 2 “Type 2” safety markers must be permanently affixed to the upper corner at each end.
- A “Type 2” marker is either: a marker of 3 yellow reflectors each with a minimum dimension of 3” OR an all yellow reflective panel measuring not less than 6” x 12”
And here is another from the city of Denver, CO –
All dumpsters/containers placed within the Right-of-Way are subject to inspection by City Inspectors.
Must have a minimum of 6 inches wide by 4 feet long strip of reflective tape placed vertically on each corner, or four vertical panel barricades with flashing lights placed on the street facing side of the container. (Placement of the barricades is to be at each end and evenly spaced in the middle.) May be placed in the public Right-of-Way for a maximum of 180 days in a 12 month period.
And one from NYC – The container shall be marked with high intensity reflective paint, reflectors, or other markings capable of producing a warning glow when struck by the head lamps of a vehicle or other source of illumination at a distance of 300 feet. The use of prismatic sheeting or reflectors is recommended.
And finally, one from Atlanta GA – The requirement to affix and maintain, on each of the four corners of the dumpster high-intensity retro-reflective sheeting, or other retro-reflective or prismatic material or substance according to standards established and published by the commissioner of the department of public works. Any dumpster in the public right-of-way not bearing its identification information or reflective material as required by subsection (f) of this section, shall be in violation of the requirements of this section.
I list the regulations for various cities above for the purpose of showing you the different methods that are required for marking containers. And how serious municipalities are about this issue. Again, even if there is not a regulation in your area for marking your container with reflective material, you should mark it anyway to show due diligence and to keep drivers safe. Especially if your containers are near a roadway. In the event of an accident, due diligence and an attempt made to keep drivers safe will help in your favor. Not following an express ordinance and then having an accident happen is not a favorable situation.
What Type of Reflective Tape for Containers?
The type of reflective tape you used depends on the sight distance that you want to achieve, and any regulations that are in place in your municipality. If there is an ordinance governing the marking of your container, follow that ordinance. Generally speaking, if traffic is close and slow moving, then a type one or better retro reflective tape can be used. Any color is fine, but the brighter colors are white, yellow, and orange. You can also combine two colors for a better effect. If the container or trash can is in or around fast moving traffic, and a longer sight distance is needed, use a type 3 or better film. A V82 Type 5 by Oralite is a good choice for a situation like this. It is thin, incredibly bright, and still affordable.
The picture above shows our engineer grade type 1 film in all the colors. Normally a 1″ or 2″ wide roll is used for containers, trash cans, and dumpsters.
The tape above is our Oralite V82 or AP1000 film. It is at least 10 times as bright as engineer grade film and can be seen from much further away. If a container needs to be seen from a long sight distance, or if there is limited room for tape and 1″ had to be used, then Oralite V82 is a good choice.
There are other choices, and they can be found at www.reflectivestore.com .
Steven Cole (Economics, MBA – University of West Florida , Business & Innovation – Stanford University) 25 years of experience in the reflective safety business. Specializing in vehicle accident and rear end collision reduction through increased visibility.