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Speed Bumps or Speed Humps?

Plastic Speed Bumps

Speed bumps and humps play a significant role in traffic calming and increasing awareness on the road. Speed is the primary factor in most vehicle accidents—increasing both risk and severity. As drivers move faster, they have less time to respond to road conditions and any resulting collision causes more damage. To counter the problem of speeding, municipalities can choose from a number of traffic calming tools to encourage safe driving. Speed limits, speed bumps, speed humps, roundabouts, and signs are among the strategies used to slow drivers down and increase driver awareness. Although speed zones also encourage safe driving, they can be difficult and expensive to enforce on a larger scale. In areas where speeding carries heightened risk, vertical deflections will impose speed reduction. Speed humps and speed bumps are examples of these vertical deflections, and are widely used because of their ease of installation and low cost. Speed Bumps or Speed Humps Despite the similar names, speed humps and speed bumps are not interchangeable—they are distinct in their performance. Both use a 2–4 inch rise to force drivers to reduce their speed. Speed bumps have a much shorter travel distance than speed humps and create a more aggressive jolt for the driver. Speed bumps measure up to 12 feet long, forcing serious speed reduction. Vehicles’ front wheels pass over the bump entirely before the rear wheels pass over—causing the driver to effectively experience two bumps. This requires drivers to slow to a near-stop to pass over them safely and comfortably. Speed humps are modular and span 12–14 feet wide, or the entire width of a road if desired. Vehicles can pass over them with less of a jolt, and can safely maintain speeds of 15–20 miles per hour. They are better suited for local roads and lanes where low speeds are preferred but full stops are not necessary or convenient. Speed humps encourage low speeds without forcing the driver to come to a full stop. Speed humps are intended to reduce driver speeds down to 10–15 miles per hour over the hump, and 25–30 miles per hour between humps in a series. They should be arranged to avoid disruption of cycling lanes and on-street parking. Several studies from the Iowa Department of Transportation have shown a 40 percent speed reduction for most vehicles. Excessive speeders are also deterred. These effects translate to fewer accidents—children are much less likely to be struck by cars in neighborhoods where speed bumps are installed. Most importantly, the results don’t revert over time. Other traffic calming measures such as “slow” signs lose efficacy with age. The reduction in speed and traffic volume from speed bumps can remain long after local drivers become accustomed to their presence

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