A potentially dangerous pastime is increasing along state highways the past several months with numerous highway signs being vandalized by paintballs throughout south-central Idaho.
The paintball stains are not only costly to tax payers – who will pay the bill to replace thousands of dollars worth of signs in the area – but has the potential to create hazardous results. The paintballs damage the reflectivity of signs, making them harder to see at night. While the signs appear normal during daylight hours, the paint covers and destroys sign reflectivity.
"Among the misconceptions is paintballs are advertised as water-soluble," District 4 Traffic Services Foreman Carl Horn said. "They will wash out of clothing with soap and hot water, but when left on a sign to dry, the paint leaves spots on the sign. The residue cannot be removed without damaging the reflectivity of the sign."
More than 70 signs recently were replaced on two highways in Cassia County at a cost of more than $7,000 in materials and labor. Not included in the damage report is the liability created because of the damage, including the risk of an accident if a motorist misses a sign at night because of the vandalism.
Highway signs are periodically inspected for reflectivity and replaced when they no longer meet the state standard. Signs that are vandalized with paint or by other means cannot fulfill the 10-year design life and must be replaced prematurely.