Raised pavement markings—often called RPMs—are reflective roadway markers that are made of plastic, ceramic, or metal. They are used to improve visibility in traveled areas and last through traffic, weather, temperature changes, and sun exposure. However, basic pavement markers often don’t hold up to the damage caused by snowplows. Here, we explain the benefits of raised pavement markings, provide advice on the best markers for plowed roadways, and explain how to apply heavy-duty snowplowable raised pavement markers to road surfaces using existing castings.

Why Use Raised Pavement Markers?

Road reflectors provide visual cues for motorists in parking lots, driveways, loading dock areas, on roadways, and for temporary use in construction zones. One- and two-way snowplowable raised pavement markers (3M™ 190) feature a polycarbonate body and lens and are manufactured in a range of colors, including yellow, white, blue, yellow and red, white and yellow, and white and red. 

Note: As with other traffic control devices and signals, choose your color based on intended use, considering any color cue requirements that may be in place—for example, white to indicate shoulder markings, yellow for lane separation, or red for no passing or restricted access.

Follow roadway marking guidelines when applying: Pair white markers with white lines and yellow markers with yellow lines. Two-way markers should be applied with the red face positioned to alert motorists if they’re driving in the wrong direction.

Benefits of raised pavement markers include:

  • Improves visibility in any conditions
  • Offers reflectivity on wet and dry surfaces
  • Adheres to both pavement and concrete surfaces
  • Provides luminance even in winter frost and snow conditions
  • Vibration from tires crossing over pavement markers can alert to lane departure
  • Abrasion-resistant lenses provide high visibility throughout the use period
  • When used as a delineation device, you may spend less time repainting or repairing pavement markings

Where to Install Road Reflectors

Reflective roadway markings are important visual tools for use in public parking areas such as shopping mall lots and garages, for better attention in construction zones, to highlight pedestrian crosswalks, to bring attention to curbs, and to improve visibility on ramps or dimly lit roads. Because these raised reflectors are designed to withstand regular traffic, and snowplowable options are even stronger, they may last two to three years before replacement is necessary.

What Pavement Markers Withstand Snowplowing?

Special use roadway markers, such as the 3M™ Snowplowable Raised Pavement Markers (SPRPM), improve visibility even in snowy climates—and can withstand damage from plows and other vehicles. But, proper application is necessary to ensure the pavement markers remain in place through snow removal processes.

How to Install Raised Pavement Markers

The 3M™ Snowplowable Raised Pavement Markers are available with or without pre-applied adhesive and are designed to install within cast iron housings that are set into the ground. Follow these steps for installing replacement raised pavement markers inside existing cast iron housings.

Please note: The pavement marker castings must be properly installed in the pavement using the industry-recommended adhesive. Snowplowable markers will not perform as intended if installed without the iron castings.

  1. When applying plowable pavement markers, it is recommended that the air temperature is at least 50 degrees F and rising.
  2. Before installing replacement pavement markers, remove the old markers and any adhesive or pad material, then clean out all debris, rust, and contaminants: Dirty castings will reduce the performance of new pavement marking applications. Air or sandblasting ensures debris has been cleared away.
  3. Peel away the release liner from the back of the replacement pavement marker. Apply epoxy or adhesive to the center-back of the marker. The adhesive should be applied in a bead, approximately ⅜ inch wide.
    • While butyl pads are ideal for temporary installation or use in lower-traffic areas, adhesive such as epoxy provides a more reliable application.
  4. Place the marker into the existing casting, then apply pressure with your foot, pressing down for three to four seconds until adhesive seeps around all edges and corners. This is an indicator that the adhesive is covering the marker bottom in a uniform manner.
    • If adhesive covers the reflective lense, wipe away the excess with a moist cloth to prevent reflectivity loss.
  5. When the adhesive or epoxy is set, traffic may resume.

While snowplowable raised pavement markers are designed to withstand impact from snowplow blades, added care while clearing snow can improve the lifespan of these roadway markers. Lifting the plow when the surface doesn’t require clearing can reduce wear and tear from scraping plow blades. Replacing damaged markers can improve the lifespan of the application overall.

Raised pavement markings are important traffic control devices, but in areas where snow, ice, and plows are common, you need a heavy-duty option. Choose snowplowable raised pavement markers, like the reflective polycarbonate markers from 3M™, that are designed to withstand snowplow blades and heavy traffic. Explore our Resource Center for additional information and tips for pavement marking.