Horizontal Displacement: Transverse Rumble Strips

Rumble strips are grooves placed in the roadway surface that transmit sound and vibration to alert drivers to changing conditions.

Transverse rumble strips
Transverse rumble strips (Neal Hawkins/Institute for Transportation).

Rumble strips are grooves placed in the roadway surface that transmit sound and vibration to alert drivers to changing conditions.

To reduce run-off-road (ROR) crashes, rumble strips are typically placed longitudinal to the roadway surface on the shoulder or edge of pavement to alert drivers that they are leaving the roadway.

Rumble strips have also been placed perpendicular to the direction of traffic and used to alert drivers of a change in upcoming conditions.

Rumble strips have been used in advance of rural stop signs and prior to curves. In Iowa, transverse rumble strips are sometimes used on the approach to stop signs on rural roads.

Advantages

  • Does not adversely affect emergency response services
  • Does not interfere with vehicle operation

Disadvantages

  • Noisy
  • May be a hazard to motorcyclists and bicyclists
  • Drainage can cause water or ice to pond in the strips
  • Vehicles may swerve around them to avoid and, consequently, should be used with caution on high-volume roads (Fontaine et al. 2000) or placed across the entire width of the road.

Effectiveness

The Crash Modification Factors Clearinghouse provides the crash modification factors (CMFs) when installing transverse rumble strips as a traffic-calming device in urban and suburban areas.

CMFs for transverse rumble strip installation

Crash SeverityCMF
All0.66
Serious or minor injury0.64

Cost

  • Moderate costs
  • Typically a standard bid item for the DOT and public agencies

Reference

Fontaine, Michael, Paul Carlson, and Gene Hawkins. Evaluation of Traffic Control Devices for Rural High-Speed Maintenance Work Zones: Second Year Activities and Final Recommendations. Report FHWA/TX-01/1879-2. Texas Transportation Institute, 2000.

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