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Pilot program aims to ease over-correction problems

Posted March 22, 2011

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— The North Carolina Department of Transportation is launching a pilot study in Johnston County involving a new paving technique designed to make roadways safer.

The Safety Edge technique adds a 30 degree slope between the edge of the resurfaced road and the unpaved shoulder.

Traditional resurfacing leaves a vertical pavement edge on the shoulder, creating a drop-off. When a driver heads off the road, sometimes the wheel gets caught on the edger of the pavement, causing the driver to over-correct and crash. 

DOT safety engineer Shawn Troy said drivers aren’t prepared for that drop-off.

“I think it’s just because people don’t understand that you need to slow down. It’s a shock,” Troy said Tuesday.

Researchers studying wrecks involving vehicles that ran off the road between 2002 and 2004 found that pavement edges were a contributing factor in 18 percent of rural wrecks on paved roads with unpaved shoulders in Iowa and nearly one-fourth of those crashes in Missouri, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.

Safety Edge is designed to make it easier for drivers to transition between the road and the unpaved shoulder.

“What the Safety Edge does is gives you a little bit of a smooth transition from that run-off-the-road scenario back onto the pavement,” Troy said.

Crews will cover the pavement edge with dirt, but the benefit happens when the dirt is gone.

“Once vehicles run off the road and re-rut out the shoulder, the grass and the dirt, and that edge becomes exposed, that's when the real benefit would come,” Troy said.

NCDOT is part of a federal pilot project to test the Safety Edge method.

Crews are using it on eight Johnston County roads over the next few weeks:

  • Technology Drive from N.C. 42 to Glen Road (.29 mile)
  • Hospital Road from U.S. 301 to Buffaloe Road (.64 mile);
  • Langdon Road from N.C. 50 to Stephenson Road (.94 mile);
  • Brogden Road from Richardson Bridge Road to the Wayne County line (2.1 miles);
  • Camelia Road from U.S. 301 to Raleigh Road (1.61 miles);
  • Shade Tree Road from Raleigh Road to Federal Road (1.58 miles);
  • Glen Road from N.C. 42 to the first pavement joint (.39 mile); and
  • Country Club Road from U.S. 301 to the end of the state-maintained road (.75 mile).


The DOT also plans to use it on repaving jobs in Harnett and Robeson counties.

“It doesn’t mean that it’s going to prevent a crash, but it’s all about giving that driver the opportunity to get back on the road safely,” Troy said.

Pilot program aims to ease over-correction problems Pilot program aims to ease over-correction problems

Since 2008, the Safety Edge technique has been used on stretches of four roadways—one each in Burke, Iredell, Johnston and Union counties—ranging in length from less than 2 miles to nearly 9 miles. The existing Johnston County installation is along 1.8 miles of Old U.S. Highway 70 West in Clayton from Shotwell Road to the Wake County line.

The Safety Edge system doesn't cost much more than traditional vertical pavement edges, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

20 Comments

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  • OGE Mar 23, 2011

    Johnston County is the place to do the study considering all the kids that have been hurt there.

  • meBNme Mar 23, 2011

    "the state needs to bay adequeate right of ways for these rual area roads to be built the roadways standards of the normal typhcial sections an foor the to have adequate footage for at the least a four foot paved shoulder an then to allow for road mainteance supervisor forces to be out on a daily bases backing up low shoulders what good is it to have an pay a road mainteance supervisor an then to not allow for them to be able to do their jobs dutys. thank you
    The NCDOT NEED TO TAKE ACTION TO FIX THE deteriorating conditions of the aspahlt mixture that are currently being utlized across this state that has an is still costing tht estates taxpaying citizens out the yeng yang. strickly due to the sorry gards og aphalt pavement that are currently being used by the NCDOT an their contracting enitys responsible for the paving of north carolina roadways with this kinds of c thank you
    pbjbeach"

    I wish I was bilingual. I admire folks like you who speak multiple languages.
    What language is this

  • froggygirl Mar 23, 2011

    I'll be interested to see if this helps. Many years ago I almost got killed by one of those 4-inch drops.

  • CB123 Mar 23, 2011

    I learned a long time ago that if you run off an edge you can't just get right back on. Learned that on a bicycle and the same applies to driving a car. First, don't run off the road. Second, if you do run off the road, slow down and ease the car back on. Pretty simple...

  • itsnotmeiswear Mar 23, 2011

    "around here, if you wait until the car slows down you will be in a ditch or a guardrail. No room for that here in the country of Clayton."

    Far better to hit the ditch or guardrail than go head on into oncoming traffic or flip the car.

    The real problem is speed. Ford's new smart key technology should be standard on all new cars.

  • pbjbeach Mar 23, 2011

    the state needs to bay adequeate right of ways for these rual area roads to be built the roadways standards of the normal typhcial sections an foor the to have adequate footage for at the least a four foot paved shoulder an then to allow for road mainteance supervisor forces to be out on a daily bases backing up low shoulders what good is it to have an pay a road mainteance supervisor an then to not allow for them to be able to do their jobs dutys. thank you

  • pbjbeach Mar 23, 2011

    The NCDOT NEED TO TAKE ACTION TO FIX THE deteriorating conditions of the aspahlt mixture that are currently being utlized across this state that has an is still costing tht estates taxpaying citizens out the yeng yang. strickly due to the sorry gards og aphalt pavement that are currently being used by the NCDOT an their contracting enitys responsible for the paving of north carolina roadways with this kinds of c thank you

  • I know some stuff Mar 23, 2011

    again, shaking my head about the poor thinking at the DOT. The rural roads are generally unsafe because there are NO or poor shoulders. Build the road right, and you won't have to worry about the shape of the edge.
    Then to 'try' this edge system on Glen Rd, and Tech.Drive (I work here) road...where the speed is low, and there has never been such a crash (this is IN town,not rural!) is just plain flawed thinking. Another waste, while pretending to do something good.

  • FromClayton Mar 23, 2011

    ajfuddermukker
    yep. that's true for normal roads.

    around here, if you wait until the car slows down you will be in a ditch or a guardrail. No room for that here in the country of Clayton.

  • ajfuddermukker Mar 23, 2011

    This is a waste of our money! The problem is NOT the way the road is paved, it is the way that people drive. In driver's Ed they teach you that if you should run off the road on the right side, that you take your foot off the gas pedal and gradually ease back onto the road. Do not hit the brake and quickly pull the wheel to get back on the road. That is when you lose control of your vehicle and the real problems begin.

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