Rumble Strips and Stripes

Image of Rumble Strips


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.

Program Contact

Cathy Satterfield


What's New

Design Criteria for Adaptive Roadway Lighting, PUBLICATION NO. FHWA-HRT-14-051 JULY 2014 new

Median Barriers on Divided Highways Regardless of Access Type new

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FHWA Resource Charts, July 2013

FHWA Roadway Lighting Handbook, August 2012

RwD Strategic Plan, April 2013

Updated Guidance on Sign Retroreflectivity, April 2013

Clarifying Guidance on Daytime Luminance, January 2013

Guidance for the Selection , Use and Maintenance of Cable Barrier Systems, November 2012