Rumble Strips – what are they, and what do they do?

The Federal Highway Administration reports that run-off-the-road accidents account for a third of all traffic deaths in the US. In 2000, almost 16,000 traffic fatalities were attributed to these type crashes at a taxpayer cost of almost $80 billion a year.

Fatigue, drowsiness, and driver inattention play a significant factor in these single-vehicle crashes. In 1998, the National Sleep Foundation reported that more than 52% of all adults surveyed in the past year had driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy.

TxDOT is addressing this problem with rumble strips. When tires cross these raised or grooved patterns along the edges of a roadway, drivers hear a loud rumble and feel a strong vibration to alert them that they are leaving the main lane. Research indicates the use of rumble strips can reduce run-off-the-road crashes up to 50 percent.

The strips cost less than 12 cents a foot and are installed during initial construction or later. TxDOT often puts rumble strips along rural interstate and multi-lane divided highways, which tend to have a higher incidence of one-car accidents. In addition to being cost-effective, rumble strips provide savings to taxpayers by helping reduce these types of crashes.

TxDOT is currently researching the use of center-line rumble strips to help prevent head-on collisions on undivided highways.

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