By Nnamdi Ikeh-Akabogu (FRSCN)

Retroreflective sheeting is flexible retroreflective material primarily used to increase the night-time conspicuity of vehicles, traffic signs, high-visibility clothing, and other items so they are safely and effectively visible in the light of an approaching driver’s headlamps. They are also used as a material to increase the scanning range of barcodes in factory settings.

The sheeting consists of retroreflective glass beads, micro prisms, or encapsulated lenses sealed onto a fabric or plastic substrate.

Many different colors and degrees of reflection intensity are provided by numerous manufacturers for various applications.

As with any retroreflector, sheeting glows brightly when there is a small angle between the observer’s eye and the light source directed toward the sheeting, but appears non-reflective when viewed from other directions.

Retroreflective sheeting is widely used in a variety of applications today, after early widespread use in road signage beginning in the 1960s.

It helps especially at night to communicate to other road users that a vehicle is ahead of them by sending a reflection back to the oncoming vehicle.


The National Road Traffic Regulations, 2012, Section 12(123) makes it mandatory for all vehicles to have reflective red and silver tapes fitted to the rear and sides of the vehicle. It should be 4 inches in width and 12 inches in length.

The traffic expert is DCC Nnamdi Ikeh-Akabogu, DCC Morning and Evaluation (M&E), Special Duties and External Relations (SEDER), FRCC HQ, Abuja.

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