U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
202-366-4000


Skip to content
Facebook iconYouTube iconTwitter iconFlickr iconLinkedInInstagram

Safety

FHWA Home / Safety / Proven Safety Countermeasures / Longitudinal Rumble Strips and Stripes on Two-Lane Roads

Longitudinal Rumble Strips and Stripes on Two-Lane Roads

Longitudinal rumble strips are milled or raised elements on the pavement intended to alert drivers through vibration and sound that their vehicle has left the travel lane. They can be installed on the shoulder, edge line, or at or near the center line of an undivided roadway.

Rumble stripes are edge line or center line rumble strips where the pavement marking is placed over the rumble strip. This can increase the visibility and durability of the pavement marking during wet, nighttime conditions, and can improve the durability of the marking on roads with snowplowing operations.

With roadway departure crashes accounting for more than half of the fatal roadway crashes annually in the United States, rumble strips and stripes are designed to address these crashes by alerting distracted, drowsy, or otherwise inattentive drivers who drift from their lane. They are most effective when deployed systemically.

Transportation agencies should consider milled center line rumble strips (including in passing zone areas) and milled edge line or shoulder rumble strips with bicycle gaps for systemic safety projects, location-specific corridor safety improvements, as well as reconstruction or resurfacing projects.

Considerations

  • Rumble strips are relatively low-cost, and economic analyses have indicated benefit/cost ratios that exceed 100.1
  • Where rumble strips cannot be placed due to noise concerns, agencies may consider a design using an oscillating sine wave pattern (also known as “mumble strips”) that reduces noise outside of the vehicle. However, the safety benefits of this design need more study.2
  • Maintenance concerns:
    • Where rumble strips are placed along a pavement joint, there are typically no issues with joint stability if the pavement structure and joint was already in good condition.
    • Studies have shown no evidence of issues related to snow, ice, or rain build-up in the rumble strip.3
Photo: This photograph, taken along the edge line of a two-lane undivided roadway, shows longitudinal rumble strips present in the center and along the paved shoulder of the roadway. The roadway is located in a level, rural setting, and the roadway is marked with a dashed yellow centerline and solid white edge lines.

Shoulder rumble strips and center line rumble stripes are installed on this roadway. Source: FHWA

Sources

1. Himes, S., and McGee, H. Decision Support Guide for the Installation of Shoulder and Center Line Rumble Strips on Non-Freeways. FHWA-SA-16-115, (2016).

2. Bedsole et al. Did You Hear That? Public Roads Magazine, Volume 80, No. 4. FHWA Publication No. FHWA-HRT-17-002, (2017).

3. NCHRP Synthesis 339: Centerline Rumble Strips – A Synthesis of Highway Practices, (2005).

4. NCHRP Report 641: Guidance for the Design and Application of Shoulder and Centerline Rumble Strips, (2009).

Safety Benefits:

Center Line Rumble Strips

44-64%

reduction in head-on fatal and injury crashes on two-lane rural roads.4

Shoulder Rumble Strips

13-51%

reduction in single vehicle, run-off-road fatal and injury crashes on two-lane rural roads.4

This photograph, taken along the edge line of a roadway, shows longitudinal rumble strips overlapping with the edge line of the roadway.

Example of an edge line rumble stripe.
Source: Missouri DOT


Guidance Memos NEW

Read the Guidance Memoranda on Promoting the Implementation of Proven Safety Countermeasures.

2021 | 2017 | 2012 | 2008

Page last modified on October 28, 2021
Safe Roads for a Safer Future - Investment in roadway safety saves lives
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000