TTI Study: Wider Stripes on Rural Highways Could Reduce Accidents

By: Michael Oder Email
By: Michael Oder Email

A new Texas Transportation Institute study at Texas A&M says wider stripes on the sides of rural highways could reduce the number of accidents. Right now, no rural highways in Texas have this wider stripe, but this new discovery could soon been seen in the Brazos Valley.

Traveling in Texas can take you down some long and winding roads.

Even though they don't see the traffic that major highways do, over half of all fatality accidents happen on rural two-lane highways. The Texas Transportation Institute, or TTI, says they know a way to cut that number down. Make the edge line wider.

Paul Carlson wrote a study at TTI.

"People have been experimenting with the standard with of 4 inches and increasing from 6 to 8," says Carlson.

The edge line he's talking about is the white line that marks the shoulder. The study says by making the stripe wider, accidents, even fatal ones, were reduced by up to 38 percent.

"I think in terms of these wider edge lines, its about the visibility and the wherewithall as a driver of knowing where you are in your lane and your position," explains Carlson.

Now, the study says that in addition to reducing accidents up to 30 percent in some cases, that those wider strips actually have a benefit over something like rumble strips on the side of the road. That's because if you've ever been in your car and hit a rumble strip before you know how loud they can be.

"They produce noise that the residents don't like and where you don't have a lot of pavement thickness, you can't really grind into your pavement and a lot of our highways in Texas are like that. We just have a small layer of pavement," says Carlson.

Bottom line?

Wider stripes are more cost effective than rumble strips. That makes for an attractive option to drivers and Transportation Departments looking to increase safety.

TTI hopes that with this new information national traffic codes will be updated to make the wider shoulder stripe standard.

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