Thursday, June 18, 2015

We’re testing portable rumble strips to reduce distracted driving

View Video: WSDOT tests portable rumble strips
on US 12, west of Yakima.
By Summer Derrey

Work zone crashes occur every 14 minutes across the nation. Each year, about 600 people are killed in roadway work zones. Washington state averages 950 work zone injures every year. The culprit?  It’s mostly distracted driving and speeding.

Our traffic engineers are coming up with solutions to help drivers pay attention.

We are currently testing portable rumble strips on Yakima area highways to determine if they are effective in combating driver inattention. We hope it increases safety for the drivers and the workers.

View Video: A WSP car drives over
the rumble strips at a higher speed
with no issues.
The strips are placed before construction zones making a loud ka-thud, ka-thud sound as motorists drive over them. It doesn’t rock your car too much – just wakes you up a bit.

Portable rumble strips have been proven in other states to increase driver awareness and are safe for motorcycles, automobiles and semi-trucks. California, Texas, Utah and Florida are required to use them when blocking lanes for work on state highways.

And this is just one idea to increase highway safety. What are your ideas?


Anonymous said...

And this is just one idea to increase highway safety. What are your ideas?

There are many things that could be done to improve highway safety.

* Lower the speed limit back to 55. Less kinetic energy involved and longer reaction times for drivers.

* Enforce talking/texting while driving laws.

* Pass I-732 and / or raise gas taxes so that the cost of driving is fully reflected in the cost of gas. If people had to actually pay what it costs to build and maintain our highway infrastructure as well as our overseas oil dependence they'd start to take carpooling and other trip reduction strategies seriously (

WSDOT said...

Thank you so much for your feedback! We will certainly pass your suggestions along to our traffic department, management and the Washington State Patrol.

Levi said...

How do these effect Motorcycles? "doesn’t rock your car too much" for a heavy state patrol car... Might be enough to cause major issues for a lightweight person on a lightweight motorcycle.

Double in the wet, depending on what they are made of.

So long as it's found to be safe for all motorists, it seems like a great idea.

I second stronger enforcement for current laws that show a driver is distracted.. Texting, failure to keep right, lack of turn signals, etc...

Anonymous said...

I see increasingly poor and unprofessional driving skills; to the point negligence in many cases.
I suggest more enforcement of the basic rules of the road, such as.
1. Tailgating.
2. Driving in the inside lane and not passing.
3. Passing on the right.
4. Improper lane changing and failing to single.
5. Aggressive driving, such as failing to yield and moving to cut off others from merging and changing lanes.
6. Failing to merge properly when entering a limited access highway.
I would also suggest requiring an expanded driver’s education program for all drivers, not just those under the age of 18.

Bridget said...

Driving is too easy and quickly becomes an automatic process, especially with automatic transmission vehicles. Encouraging purchase of manual transmission vehicles, especially for young people (maybe with a tax break) will help engage drivers and connect them to their vehicle and surroundings. It's difficult to text and shift at the same time.

I fully support traffic safety education for all novice drivers and not just teens.

WSDOT said...

Interesting idea – thanks Bridget!

Anonymous said...

Here are some safety suggestions I’ve accumulated from driving on the roads of Puget Sound and SW Washington. But before I continue, a quick local issue worth mentioning in regards to safety; US-12, from Devonshire Rd. outside Montesano to the Wynoochee River Bridge and Clemons Rd… what’s up with this segment? A major 4 lane highway, 2 lanes each way, with 60 MPH traffic, more like 65-75 MPH with how people drive, separated by a measly 18 in. yellow line and rumble strip for over 1.3 miles. I know it’s meant to be a transition zone from the freeway to whatever you call US-12 west of the Wynoochee, but it makes no sense and is downright dangerous if not fatal. The recent head-on collision a few weeks ago is not surprising. What is, is the fact that there haven’t been more. All it takes is one drunk driver crossing over that 18 inch median and you would have a horrific multi-vehicle accident that will leave everyone angry and heartbroken. I don’t want to see that happen, ever, and it could easily happen right now without a physical barrier separating the alternating lanes of traffic. And as a “transition zone”, it really doesn’t make any sense. US-12 is divided by a jersey barrier the entire way to Aberdeen!!! No part of US-12 going through Central Park into Aberdeen looks anything like this one segment of road with no barrier. It’ll cost money, but fix this before a real tragedy occurs! Separate the lanes with jersey barriers like the rest of the highway. For the super-narrow bridge use anchored delineator poles in the median which is the best you can do without replacing the bridge.

Many state highways need basic safety improvements, like reflectors and guardrails and guard-rail/barrier reflectors which seem to go neglected. For ex, a scary corridor would be SR-108 between McCleary and Kamilche. The 2-lane highway has dismal guardrails, shoulders, lacks safety features, and with high speeds and heavy traffic is scary. Especially at night! Surprised, but thankful, there hasn’t been more accidents. SR-18 near I-90 could use more reflectors too, perhaps those awesome new LED markers used in Snoqualmie Pass.

On that topic, the LED overhead lights being used in Olympia on US-101 and I-5 need adoption state-wide. The whiter LED lighting is natural and easy on the eyes, light more of the roadway, are variable, and cost the state less in energy bills.

When reducing lanes for road construction, from 3 to 2 or 2 to 1 lanes, reduce speeds! Make it mandatory and enforceable by the State Patrol. Even if lane reductions are temporary.

Also needs to be more permanent shoulder/median rumble strips on state highways, rural or city. They're effective and need state-wide adoption. Also a big fan of the new adhesive lane stripes/with the small raised bumps. They last a while and provide a gentle reminder that you’ve changed lanes. Cool stuff.

Lastly, whatever you’re doing when you grind-down indent strips in the pavement for the reflectors. There's some issues: at night, because the reflector’s below the surface of the pavement, it reflects light when you’re about 5 car-lengths away. When on top, they delineated the road for 500 ft. To fix this, make the indent strips longer, with a gentle angle descending in and out of the strips to allow light from farther away be reflected back. It also rains in Washington. The indents fill up with water, and at night with no drainage, the reflectors become obsolete, unless on a slope. This defeats the purpose of reflectors if they don't function in all weather. Fixing this goes back to the LED markers. If they're adopted statewide, they shine brightly even when submerged in shallow water so the indents would work. Finally, new indents made on heavily used roadways older pavement quickly turn to mini-potholes thanks to water collecting in them with vehicles driving over. Reflectors placed in indents also tend to be lost quickly.

As to the blog post, these temporary rumble strips look really cool and I hope they work and see them at construction sites across the state soon.

WSDOT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WSDOT said...

Levi - We have a “Motorcycles Use Extreme Caution”, and “Rumble Strips” signs to advise motorcyclists of the rumble strips. Also during our test we had a bike drive across them close to 60 MPH. The manufacturer has also done extensive testing with motorcycles to help ensure their safe use.

WSDOT said...

Thanks for your comments! We’ll forward your ideas to the Washington State Patrol and the Department of Licensing.

Anonymous said...

I worked for WSDOT in construction surveying and inspection for 9 years. I would recommend that all drivers education classes include a component where the soon-to-be driver must spend some time as a flagger in a construction zone. I think this would promote some awareness of how driver behavior affects construction workers.


WSDOT comment policy

Post a Comment