U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Rumble Strips are an effective countermeasure for preventing roadway departure crashes. The noise and vibration produced by rumble strips alert drivers when they leave the traveled way. Rumble stripes is the term used for rumble strips painted with a retroreflective coating to increase the visibility of the pavement edge at night and during inclement weather conditions.
There are two main applications of rumble strips:
Centerline Rumble Strips − an effective countermeasure to prevent head-on collisions and opposite-direction sideswipes, often referred to as cross-over or cross-centerline crashes. Primarily used to warn drivers whose vehicles are crossing centerlines of two-lane, two-way roadways.
Shoulder Rumble Strips − an effective means of preventing run-off-the-road crashes. hey are primarily used to warn drivers they have drifted from their lane. A variation on this is the edge line rumble stripe, which places the pavement marking within the rumble strip, improving the visibility of the marking. This is more commonly used on roads with narrow shoulders.
The main cause of roadway departure crashes is driver drowsiness and inattention, which are sometimes compounded by driving too fast. Alcohol and drugs can contribute to both fatigue and speed. Driver fatigue also is induced by highway hypnosis, which occurs when the lines and stripes on long, monotonous stretches of highway reduce the driver’s concentration. When drivers stray from the travel lane, rumble strips rouse their attention to allow a safe recovery. Rumble strips also are helpful in alerting drivers to the lane limits where conditions such as rain, fog, snow or dust reduce driver visibility.
Road agencies also use rumble strips in the travel lanes to warn motorists of any upcoming change that may require them to act — for example, the need to slow down for a toll plaza ahead, change lanes for a work zone around the curve, or stop at an intersection. Click here for more information about use of rumble strips as an intersection safety countermeasure.
FHWA Technical Advisory T 5040.39: Shoulder and Edge Line Rumble Strips
This 2011 FHWA Technical Advisory presents guidelines for use and information on the purpose and effectiveness of shoulder and edge line rumble strips. Additionally it provides application considerations, design and installation information as well suggestions for mitigating adverse affects and public outreach.
FHWA Technical Advisory T 5040.40: Center Line Rumble Strips
This 2011 FHWA Technical Advisory presents guidelines for use and information on the purpose and effectiveness of center line rumble strips. Additionally it provides application considerations, design and installation information as well suggestions for mitigating adverse affects and public outreach.
FHWA Memo: Technical Advisories for Rumble Strips
This 2011 memorandum from the FHWA Office of Safety transmits two new technical advisories on rumble strips to replace a 2001 technical advisory.
Areas of Concern
Rumble strips also have their drawbacks, including complaints about noise levels, bicyclists’ concerns about safety, and maintenance issues faced by road crews. This level explores information about how to balance these concerns with effective rumble strip design and implementation.
Rumble Strip Types
Click here to learn about the four types of rumble strips—milled, rolled, formed, and raised ─including their shape, size, installation, and noise and vibration characteristics. Users with a QuickTime plug-in will be able to see and hear cars and trucks on milled and rolled rumble strips.
Rumble Strips Resources and References
Click here for a wealth of information about rumble strips: synthesis reports, research reports, web links, and expert contacts.