Reflective Tape Requirements

by Daniel Westlake

Reflective tape is required for large commercial vehicles such as trucks or personal vehicles that are sometimes used for commercial purposes. There are laws and guidelines for where reflective tape should be placed so that other cars on the road can spot them more easily when driving at night.


The proper colors of reflective tape for trucks and tractor trailers are red and white, as this is what will optimally pick up and reflect the light from approaching headlights at night. Usually 6 inches of each strip of tape is red and 6 inches of the other half is white. These colors switch off intermittently as the tape is unspooled and have varying degrees of reflection power, based upon the quality of the reflective tape.

Placement on Flatbeds

Reflective tape should be placed in specific areas on flatbeds and be visible when they are empty or carrying a box trailer for transport. The tape should be attached along the lower edge of the box trailer, so that it is visible at night from all angles where an approaching vehicle with headlights would be able to see it. The reflective tape should also be attached to the metal hitch on the back of the flatbed, so that vehicles approaching from behind will see two strips of reflective tape, drawing more attention to the presence of the truck.

Placement on Tankers

Large tanker trucks carrying liquids, ranging from milk to gasoline, must also have reflective tape on the truck itself, though in different places and patterns then regular flatbeds or box trailers. While reflective tape should be attached to the back base of the tanker and the metal hitch near the rear wheels, there is no place to put reflective tank on the sides except on the tanker itself. Therefore, strips of reflective tape should be intermittently placed in a straight line along the middle of the tanker's body, so that headlights illuminating the tanker from the side will see numerous dashes of reflective tape, as opposed to one long one. This will help approaching vehicles to recognize it is a tanker truck.

About the Author

Hailing from Austin, Texas, Daniel Westlake has written under pen names for a myriad of publications all over the nation, ranging from national magazines to local papers. He now lives in Los Angeles, Calif. but regularly travels around the country and abroad, exploring and experiencing everything he can.

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