MDOT: Rumble strips on rural roads save lives

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Increased use of rumble strips on Michigan roads has been saving lives, the state says.

The Michigan Department of Transportation started using rumble strips along the sides and down the centerlines of rural, non-freeway roads with a speed limit of 55 mph more than a decade ago. Monday, the agency released new numbers showing how well they work.

MDOT has installed 5,700 miles of centerline rumble strips and 1,700 miles of shoulder rumble strips across the state since 2008. A study by Wayne State University shows that after the strips went in, the number of crashes fell by 47 percent and the number of deadly crashes fell by 51 percent.

The state estimates the rumble strips prevent 337 crashes each year, saving an estimated 16 lives and preventing 62 serious injuries.

>>Online: MDOT’s report on non-freeway rumble strips (PDF)

“It’s lines in the road,” MDOT spokesman John Richard said. “It’s a pretty simple, crude method to get people to stay in their lanes. And as you know, people are distracted, people are drowsy, all those different agendas, all those different moods. When you’ve got that many people and that many personalities on the road, stuff’s going to happen. So rumble strips are a very effective way to keep people in their lanes.”

One of the first roads in West Michigan to get the centerline rumble strips was M-57 between Greenville and Cedar Springs in late 2007. MDOT crunched the numbers on that road and said they mirror the statewide figures: Injuries due to crashes have dropped 47 percent and deaths due to crashes have declined 51 percent.

Rumble strips have done so well a number of county road commissions are using them on their own roads, so drivers can expect to see more of them in the future.

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