Nearly 228 million drivers travel America’s 4.18 million miles of roads (ARTBA, 2017). Together, federal, state, and county transportation agencies seek to maintain and continuously improve the safety features of those roadways. The most common and most effective safety features are pavement markings. As a striping and infrastructure company, we take our role in creating safe roads seriously.
A 20-page study completed by Texas A&M researchers in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration on “The Benefits of Pavement Markings” provides an in-depth look at the impact of pavement markings on road safety. You can read the whole paper for free, if you’re interested (it’s chock full of fascinating information!), but we’ll share some of the takeaways with you here.
According to the study, nearly 60% of highway fatalities are the result of lane departures. This number reflects both head-on crashes and road run-off incidents. Furthermore, the risk of a fatal lane-departure accident is three to four times higher at night. Impaired drivers and elderly drivers are most at-risk for incidents of this sort. How can pavement markings help? In this case, the goal is keeping drivers in their lanes and on the road, so lane line and edge line width and retroreflectivity are key elements.
We won’t go into all the optical and scientific vision-tracking research and studies about foveal and peripheral vision; you can look it up if you want. The short of it is that experiments implementing wider lane and edge line markings (6” or 8” striping) in Michigan and Illinois roads resulted in an average 21% crash reduction! Numbers from this study and others of a similar nature continue to demonstrate the value of wider lane-line stripes for all roads in all terrain types under low-visibility conditions.
We love reading studies like this: studies that reflect in objective data points the people-first, safety-first values that motivate our work every day on every job. The way we see it, road striping isn’t about regulations; it’s about life.