Highway safety innovations can come from unexpected places. Take the idea of marking pavement, one of the earliest highway safety improvements. The story goes that we owe this idea to a leaky milk truck.
The leaky milk truck was traveling along a county road near Detroit in 1911. A Wayne County, Michigan, road planner named Edward Hines happened to be driving behind the leaky truck. The stripe of milk left in the truck’s wake gave Hines the idea for painting a center line along the county’s roads.
More than a century later, it’s hard to know whether this story is true. True or not, the point is this: Lined roads were safer roads, so the idea of painting a center line spread quickly.
By the 1930s, states needed a standard way to paint roads so travelers could easily understand pavement markings anywhere in the country. So the first Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) was published in 1935.
Pavement marking is an important part of any modern road project, and InfraStripe’s partner companies are setting standards for high quality pavement markings that make highway traveling safer.
And now we’re working to improve the way we stripe roadways. We’re working to make the striping process safer for infrastructure workers and nearby motorists.
For example, InfraStripe has invested in Limntech’s new LifeMarkⓇ systems which use GPS and on-board computers to apply highway markings. With this system, crew members can work from the truck’s cab instead of interacting directly with spray nozzles that are often close to moving traffic.
LifeMarkⓇ and today’s other innovations in pavement marking and work zone safety use GPS data, drones, and wireless connectivity. They seem far removed from that leaky milk truck’s single white stripe in 1911.
Still, we have a lot in common with our predecessors. Like our nation’s earliest highway builders, we’re always looking for new ways to make highways safer. And like our predecessors, we’re open to new ideas, even when they come from unexpected places.