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Speed bumps, humps, and rumble strips; what are the differences?

Controlling the speed and flow of drivers through a given space is crucial to determining the effectiveness of a roadway. There are three main physical ways of slowing a driver to the desired speed; this can increase both efficiency and safety. Speed bumps, humps, and rumble strips may all sound like similar items, but they each have an individually designed function. Together, with permanent and temporary variations, the three can cover every type of situation.

bb34ba1cac4805e19c912d22d6f8eb82            The first and most versatile, speed bumps are typically used at low speeds, 5 miles per hour or less. Their profile is steep on both sides, they are typically three to six inches in height, and the length is typically two to three times the height. This stubby design forces the driver to either slow down to a very slow speed, or subject themselves to the discomfort of being bounced sharply.


            Speed humps, as compared to bumps, are much longer and flatter. They are usually found in low speed residential areas, as they do not require the need to slow down excessively. A driver can be comfortably bounced if a hump is taken at 15-20 mph. Their design was researched heavily, and all designs must meet a national guideline before being installed. Because of their long flat design and platform like appearance, speed humps are also popular to be used as crosswalks for pedestrians.

M_Id_353234_rumble_strips            Finally, rumble strips. Rumble strips can refer to the version lining high-speed roadways that deter shoulder driving, or the low speed control version. For the sake of this article, we will be referring to the latter. Consisting of a row of semi-circle shaped bumps, the rumble strip is designed to translate a strong vibration from the road surface, through the tires of the vehicle, and to the driver by means of the steering wheel. This strong tactile sensation forces the driver to a lower speed at the benefit of less vibration through the steering wheel.

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