Daily Court Reporter - News Greater use of rumble strips sought for Ohio highways
Greater use of rumble strips sought for Ohio highways
KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
As high season for highway repair and construction nears, legislators and policymakers are mulling a plan that would add rumble strips to the center of undivided, multilane state highways - with the goal of saving lives.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in 2017 estimated installation of the strips already common on interstates and some U.S. highways could result in saving 5,670 lives and preventing 31,820 injuries during a 20-year period, according to testimony of Stephen Nielson on behalf of the Ohio Conference of AAA Clubs this week.
"In an ideal world, all drivers would be focused while on the road," he told members of the Transportation and Public Safety Committee in the Ohio House of Representatives. "We all know that is not the case. A driver may be distracted, drowsy or unable to see clearly due to weather conditions.
"Rumble strips alert a driver that they are drifting and can bring them back to focus."
The relatively easy fix was one of six cost-effective highway improvements to make highways safer.
Implementation of all six could result in 63,000 fewer highway fatalities and prevent 353,560 injuries during the 20-year period, the study found.
"House Bill 51 is legislation that would require Center Line Rumble Strips to be gradually installed on all undivided, multi-lane highways on which traffic exceeds 45 miles per hour, at times in which the road is under construction, reconstruction, improvement, or resurfacing," Rep. Tim Ginter, R-Salem, told his peers.
The Ohio Department of Public Safety reported in 2018 1,385 collisions on undivided federal and state routes in Ohio as a result of a vehicle crossing the center line.
"Of those-78 were fatal," Ginter continued.
Included in the lawmaker's testimony were a couple of maps that pinpointed and numerated left-of-center crashes on these highways.
Clermont County in southwest Ohio led the entire state with 200 such crashes during a two-year period.
Five other counties had in excess of 100 of these crashes - the majority of which in northeast Ohio.
The state's most populous county, Franklin, reported 76 highway crashes.
According to the bill, the Department of Transportation would be required to install the strips during either the construction of a new state highway or major repair work or repaving of a state highway.
HB 51 defines rumble strips as a series of intermittent and narrow areas of slightly raised or depressed road surface that either extend across the travel lane to alert a road user to unusual traffic conditions or are along the shoulder, roadway center line, or within islands formed by pavement markings to alert a road user that the user is leaving the travel lane.
The lawmaker cited a 2015 federal Department of Transportation report concluded that crossover crashes were reduced 18 to 64 percent, with most studies showing 40 to 60 percent reductions after implementing center-line rumble strips.
He shared the story of a constituent who lost two sisters in two separate fatal, center-line crashes
"In both incidents, head on collisions occurred after the driver crossed the centerline," Ginter said. "In a day of increasingly distracted drivers, the time for center-line rumble strips in Ohio has arrived."
Fiscal analysis of the bill determined the measure would result in an increase of between $700 and $1,025 per mile in construction or repaving costs for the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Analysis noted that costs would be spread over a number of years.
Date Published: May 30, 2019