Local News

Rumble Strips Provide Beneficial Bump In Road

Posted June 13, 2003 5:11 a.m. EDT

— Drivers probably do not think much about rumble strips.

The roadside bumps deliver a jolt that the state Department of Transportation believes will help save lives.

"Whenever you hit the rumble strip, you've got a vibration," said Shawn Troy, DOT safety engineer. "Not only do you feel it through the steering wheel, you feel the sound and you hear the sound. So you've got two senses going. You've got the feel in your fingertips, you've got the sound and it wakes you up."

The federal government is giving North Carolina a grant to install the strips statewide. The DOT engineers want to cover as much of the interstates as possible, because they said inattentive drivers and drivers who fall asleep at the wheel cause big problems.

In January, a tractor-trailer driver dozed off at the wheel on Interstate 40 at Aviation Parkway. A mix of 250 gallons of diesel fuel and 40,000 pounds of raw ham made a huge mess. The driver fell asleep for seconds, but it took 12 hours to clean up the interstate and get traffic back to normal.

The DOT has no set locations or timetable for installing the strips, but drivers said they are ready to rumble.

"It wakes you up, it makes you pay attention, it's a good idea," driver Michael Wilkinson said.

Safety engineers said the strips can also help keep rubberneckers in line.

Many crashes happen when drivers look at other wrecks and stray off the road. The DOT said the bottom line is saving lives.

In 2001, 25 people died in asleep at the wheel crashes in North Carolina. Official believe rumble strips will help reduce that number.

Pennsylvania received a similar grant federal money for rumble strips two years ago. The number of asleep at the wheel crashes went down 88 percent after the strips went in.