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FHWA Highway Safety Programs

Policies, Guidance, & Research

Where To Install Rumble Strips

Rumble strips solve a systemic highway safety problem (i.e., the target crash type are present on most roadways), so installing rumble strips on all paved roads offers potential safety benefit to motorists. Agencies typically focus on installing rumble strips where they will achieve the largest benefit/cost ratio. Successful data-driven approaches typically use a combination of crash and roadway data to determine parameters that indicate where the application of center line, edge line, or shoulder rumble strips will likely reduce head-on and run-off-road crashes. While this systematic approach uses historic crash data, it does not mean that rumble strips should only be applied at locations where these crash types have occurred in the past, but that rumble strips also be installed on facility types where crash data predicts these crashes will occur in the future. There are two methods used by agencies to deploy rumble strips:

  • Retrofit Approach: Agencies develop a project (or projects) to specifically install rumble strips where they did not previously exist. This approach typically includes an entire corridor or a series of long highway segments within a geographic area for cost-effectiveness.
  • RRR Approach: Agencies include the installation of rumble strips along a roadway segment while on-site performing other highway work (typically paving). This approach often reduces costs of temporary traffic control and mobilization.

Standard and Modified Rumble Strip Designs

  • Agencies often have standard designs for freeways, expressways, and highways with shoulders wide enough to comfortably accommodate bicyclists beyond the rumble strip. Some agencies also have a standard design where there is virtually no shoulder, which requires bicyclists to use the travel lane.
  • Where rumble strip installation may affect bicycle traffic, cause unwanted noise, or result in pavement maintenance concerns, alternative dimensions or designs may be an effective way to reduce motor vehicle deaths while addressing these issues.

State DOT Rumble Strip policies

Several states have developed policies regarding rumble strips. The following are examples of State DOT policies:

Research Reports

Decision Support Guide for the Installation of Shoulder and Center Line Rumble Strips (FHWA-SA-16-115)

This August 2016 guide provides a decision-support framework to inform center line and shoulder rumble strip installation. It can be used in conjunction with the FHWA Rumble Strip Implementation Guides for addressing noise issuespavement issues, and bicycle accommodation.

Sinusoidal Rumble Strip Design Optimization Study

This June 2016 study documents the presents the results of Minnesota DOT sound level monitoring of four sinusoidal rumble strip designs.

NCHRP Synthesis 490 Practice of Rumble Strips and Rumble Stripes

This 2016 synthesis includes a literature review, results of a survey, and case examples.

Safety Evaluation of Centerline Plus Shoulder Rumble Strips

This June 2015 report presents the results of a pooled fund study of several states to evaluate the combined application of centerline and shoulder rumble strips.

Evaluation of Non-Freeway Rumble Strips – Phase II, prepared for the Michigan Department of Transportation Division of Research

This March 2015 report presents the analysis of the "after" study conducted following the implementation of centerline rumble strips on nearly 5,400 miles of two-lane high speed roads that MDOT maintains.

Rumble Strip Noise Evaluation

This February 2015 report presents results of sound level monitoring of three types of longitudinal rumble strips installed along the edge of two-lane rural roads in Polk County, Minnesota. The study is in response to objections raised by some landowners about the unwanted noise caused by vehicles traveling over rumble strips when they drift over the edge or centerline of the roadway.

Centerline Audible Roadway Delineators (CARDs) Noise Analysis Report for NYS Route 77 & NYS Route 441, prepared for the New York State Department of Transportation

This 2014 report investigates the noise external to the vehicle when a tire of a vehicle passes over centerline audible roadway delineators on two-lane rural and suburban highways.

Performance Analysis of Center Line and Shoulder Rumble Strips Installed in Combination in Washington State

This 2013 study focused on the combined performance of shoulder and center line rumble strips in Washington State.

Impact of Non-Freeway Rumble Strips – Phase I, prepared for the Michigan Department of Transportation Division of Research

This July 2012 report represents the "before" study conducted prior to the implementation of centerline rumble strips on nearly 5,400 miles of two-lane high speed roads that MDOT maintains. This study included milled centerline rumble strips on all rural non-freeway highways with a posted speed limit of 55 mph and a paved roadway width greater than 20 feet and shoulder rumble strips on roadways with paved shoulders that were at least 6 feet wide.

Benefit/Cost Evaluation of MoDOT's Total Striping and Delineation Program: Phase II

This 2011 report the evaluation of the Smooth Roads Initiative to improve both the rideability and the visibility of over 2,300 miles of major roadways in Missouri includes a three-year before study period and a three-year after study period of the project.

Performance Analysis of Center Line Rumble Strips in Washington State

This 2011 study evaluates the effectiveness of center line rumble strips under a variety of traffic and geometric conditions. The findings will result in better guidance on when to use rumble strips to address various collision types.

NCHRP Report 641: Guidance for the Design and Application of Shoulder and Center Line Rumble Strips

This 2009 report provides information regarding the design and application of shoulder and center line rumble strips as an effective motor vehicle crash reduction measure, while minimizing adverse effects for motorcyclists, bicyclists, and nearby residents.

Studies to Determine the Operational Effects of Shoulder and Center Line Rumble Strips on Two Lane Undivided Roadways (TTI)

This 2009 report describes the methodology and results of analyses performed to (1) evaluate the impact of shoulder rumble strips and center line rumble strips on the placement of vehicles in the travel lane of two-lane, undivided roadways; and (2) determine the minimum shoulder width required for drivers to correct errant vehicle trajectories once alerted by passing over shoulder rumble strips.

An Assessment of Various Rumble Strip Designs and Pavement Marking Applications for Crosswalks and Work Zones

The objective of this 2005 research was to assess the effectiveness of various pavement marking materials, devices, and treatments that have potential to increase driver awareness and safety. This report includes recommendations for the application of in-roadway warning lights and rumble strips.

NCHRP Synthesis 339: Center Line Rumble Strips

This 2002 report includes a literature review, case studies, a state-of-the-practice survey, and a key issues analysis.


Other Considerations and Resources

Anyone involved in rumble strip design or installation may be interested in the following RUMBLE STRIP IMPLEMENTATION FACT SHEETS:

Technical specialists making decisions on individual projects or setting standards may be interested in the following: