We are all familiar with rumble strips along the shoulders just outside the edge line of most interstate highways in the U.S. Their function is to warn drivers who are straying from the driving lane by the noise created when a vehicle's tires ride along these strips.
Now, centerline rumble strips, more formally designated as "centerline audible roadway delineators" or CARDS for short, have been found to be a particularly effective safety device on undivided high-speed roads where there is no median or room for barriers to separate opposing lanes of traffic, such as is the case for most state highways in rural Northern New York. They are effective in both rural and urban environments.
Information provided by the state Department of Transportation notes that just in New York state, there are about 120 deaths and 3,500 injuries from head-on and opposite direction sideswipe crashes each year. Nationwide, about one in five non-intersection fatal crashes involves two vehicles crashing head-on. Of these, 75 percent occur on rural roads. For all roads, one-third of head-on crashes involve vehicles "negotiating a curve" and two-thirds are related to vehicles "going straight."
Where they are used, centerline rumble strips have the potential to significantly reduce these types of collisions, with some studies showing up to a 64 percent reduction in these types of accidents. These kinds of reductions would save many lives and prevent scores of severe injuries.
DOT anticipates that centerline rumble strips will:
-Help prevent head-on, sideswipe and opposite direction run-off-the-road collisions.
-Have a benefit/cost ratio of 75:1.
-Be relatively fast to install.
-Improve the visibility of centerline pavement markings, particularly in wet-night conditions.
-Extend the service life of centerline pavement markings.
Through funding by the Federal Highway Administration, state DOT will be installing centerline rumble strips in every region of the state. In Franklin County, roads scheduled for installation this summer include about 7.5 miles of Route 37 between Fort Covington and Hogansburg, and approximately 5.3 miles of Route 30 between Tupper Lake and the Hamilton County line. In neighboring Clinton County, sections of Route 22 between Plattsburgh and West Chazy are scheduled for centerline rumble strips.
St. Lawrence County roads targeted for this safety feature include Route 11 between Potsdam and Canton, Route 68 between Ogdensburg and Canton, and Route 56 between Hanawa Falls and Sevey's Corners.
Centerline rumble strips already exist on US Route 9 between exit 30 on the Northway (Interstate 87) and the intersection of route 73 in Essex County. They also are prevalent on sections of U.S. Route 2 in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
For more articles on traffic law and safety, go to the traffic safety board's website at www.franklincony.org and click on "Traffic Safety Board" under departments then look for "Did You Know" articles under "services."