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FHWA Home / Safety / Roadway Departure / Rumble Strips and Stripes

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:

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.

Page last modified on June 20, 2011.
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