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What Was That?

By on March 1, 2008

Rumble strips, those grooved patterns on the roadway shoulder or centerline that alert drivers they’ve strayed from their lane with a rumbling sound and a physical vibration, are proving to be a simple, cost-effective way to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities.

In the first six years after the Delaware Department of Transportation installed centerline rumble strips on U.S. Route 301 — a two-lane rural highway — the head-on collision rate decreased 90 percent and fatalities dropped to zero. This dramatic improvement was achieved even with a 30 percent increase in traffic.

Run-off-road crashes cause about a third of all traffic fatalities, according to the Federal Highway Administration, and two-thirds of those crashes occur in rural areas. Many factors contribute to roadway departure crashes, including driver fatigue or inattention, and poor visibility because of darkness or inclement weather.

Rumble strips are inexpensive to install (about 30 cents per linear foot), require little maintenance, and can be used on new or existing pavements.

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