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FHWA Home / Safety / Roadway Departure / General Information

Rumble Strips and Rumble Stripes

General Information

Overview

Rumble strips are an effective countermeasure for reducing 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.

Types of Rumble Strips

  • Center line rumble strips are an effective countermeasure to reduce head-on collisions and opposite-direction sideswipes (often referred to as cross-over or cross- center line crashes). Center line rumble strips are primarily used to warn drivers whose vehicles are crossing center lines of two-lane, two-way roads. FHWA Technical Advisory T 5040.40: Center Line Rumble Strips 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, and suggestions for mitigating adverse effects and public outreach.
  • Shoulder rumble strips are an effective means of reducing run-off-the-road crashes. They are primarily used to warn drivers when they have drifted from their lane. Edge line rumble strips are a variation on shoulder rumble strips and place the pavement marking within the rumble strip, improving the visibility of the marking. These are more commonly used on roads with narrow shoulders. FHWA Technical Advisory T 5040.39: Shoulder and Edge Line Rumble Strips 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, and suggestions for mitigating adverse effects and public outreach.
  • Transverse rumble strips are used to alert drivers of an unexpected change in the roadway, such as the need to change lanes, slow down or stop, or changes in the roadway alignment. These rumble strips are not intended to reduce run-off-road crashes. Typical locations for these rumble strips are on approaches to intersections, toll plazas, horizontal curves, and work zones. Information on transverse rumble strips is not currently covered on this web site.

Safety Statistics

Research has shown that installing rumble strips can reduce severe crashes. The following tables illustrate the safety effectiveness of center line and shoulder rumble strips. This information, along with additional statistics, is contained in NCHRP 641: Guidance for the Design and Application of Shoulder and Center Line Rumble Strips. 2009.

Center line Rumble Strip – Reduction in crash frequency from before to after rumble strip implementation for head-on and opposite direction sideswipe fatal and injury collisions
  Percent reduction in crash frequency from before to after rumble strip implementation Standard Error
Rural two-lane roads 45% 6%
Urban two-lane roads 64% 27%

Excerpt from Table 67 of NCHRP Report 641.

Shoulder Rumble Strip – Reduction in crash frequency from before to after rumble strip implementation for single-vehicle run-off-road fatal and injury crashes
  Percent reduction in crash frequency from before to after rumble strip implementation Standard Error
Rural two-lane roads 36% 10%
Rural freeways 17% 7%

Excerpt from Table 28 of NCHRP Report 641.

Additional information is available via the Crash Modification Factors (CMF) Clearinghouse. The Crash Modification Factors (CMF) Clearinghouse is an online repository of CMFs, along with supporting documentation, to help transportation engineers identify the most appropriate countermeasure for their safety needs.

Video of Rumble Strips

Rumble Strips: A Sound Investment (FHWA-SA-07-024) is an informational DVD on shoulder and center line rumble strips and rumble stripes that provides a general introduction for decision makers and practitioners. For a DVD of this resource, please send a request to report.center@dot.gov and include the publication number and title, along with the number of copies and your mailing address and phone number. Requests will be filled based on availability.

Page last modified on August 31, 2015.
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