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Our Opinion: Watch for highway striping operations

News Tribune editorial June 6, 2015 at 12:30 p.m. | Updated June 6, 2015 at 12:30 p.m.

Motorists soon may encounter the equivalent of a "wet paint" sign as they travel Missouri's highways.

As the restriping operations begin, the Missouri Department of Transportation reminds motorists to be attentive and patient when they approach a slow-moving caravan of striping trucks.

Although the yellow MoDOT trucks feature flashing strobe lights and boards with flashing arrows and messages, they travel slowly - between 8-12 miles per hour - while painting white and yellow lines on highways.

"For example," the department advises, "where the speed limit is 70 mph on interstate highways, cars are covering at least 103 feet per second. If not paying close enough attention approaching the last truck in a striping caravan, a driver suddenly may have to brake and swerve to avoid a high speed, rear-end crash, which can be extremely serious."

Eileen Rackers, MoDOT state traffic engineer, adds:"Even with all of the lights and signs, a few MoDOT striping crews are struck each year."

MoDOT provides some suggestions for motorists who come upon a striping operation:

• On multi-lane highways, be prepared to slow down and pull around the striping train by merging carefully into the open lane. Do not pull in among the trucks in the work train. Avoid driving over wet paint when possible to keep paint from getting onto your vehicle and to avoid damaging the newly painted stripe.

• On two-lane highways, stay behind the last truck in the striping train, placed well behind the striping truck. This will give the new paint the few minutes it needs to dry. If traffic backs up behind the striping train, MoDOT crews will pull out of the way where it is safe to do so and let congestion clear.

• If you drive through wet paint, which is water-based, clean your car as quickly as possible with a high-powered water hose such as those used in car washes.

The paint used for highway stripes contains glass beads that reflect light from headlights in the dark, and the stripes provide an important safety feature for drivers.

Restriping operations on active roadways create some danger and inconvenience - for both MoDOT workers and motorists.

Patience and attentiveness will go a long way toward completing this improvement efficiently and safely.

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