Everything you need to know about speed bumps!
Speed bumps, also called sleeping policemen and traffic thresholds, are popular traffic calming measures that many people see around them regularly. They are installed to slow down speeding vehicles and create a secure walker environment.
Speed bumps are used in several places, such as parking lots, garages, main roads, dirt roads, and gravel roads, to ensure traffic and pedestrian safety.
Their popular construction materials are plastic, rubber, steel, asphalt, and concrete.
This article has provided comprehensive pieces of information on what speed bumps are and everything else that you need to know about them.
What is a speed bump?
To give a brief answer to the question “What is a speed bump?”: a speed bump is a device with a low raised surface installed on pavement or roadway and extends across the travel width.
Their height can range from 25mm to 100mm, and they should have a minimum length of 900mm. They come in different sizes.
A small space between one of the edges of the closed road and a speed bump is left to help with drainage.
Speed bumps are given several names based on their structure and function. Some of these names include speed breakers, traffic thresholds, judder bars, lying-down policemen, and sleeping policemen.
It was reported in 1906 in the New York Times that a five-inch rise of the crosswalk above the road surface was implemented.
Arthur Holly Compton, a Nobel prize winner, is known for inventing the basic speed bump design. He called it “traffic control bumps.” In 1973, the British Transport Department published a report on the behaviour of different vehicles for different geometries of speed bumps.
At that time, using a speed hump on a public road was not allowed. People had still installed them on a private road.
Speed bump vs speed hump
A speed hump is wider in shape compared to a speed bump. It has more width. It is gentle on vehicles and makes them reduce speed from around 10 mph to 15 mph.
Speed humps are more commonly used on connector roads and city streets where pedestrians closely interact with vehicles.
It is usually avoided on arterial roads and routes where emergency vehicles like an ambulance usually pass.
On the other hand, speed bumps are more aggressive city traffic control devices. They make vehicles slow down by forcing them to reduce speed below 10 mph.
They are used in pedestrian zones, school zones, and work zones to provide safety to walkers.
Learn more: What is a speed bump?
Role of speed bumps
A speed bump is a versatile tool that people use for many purposes.
The role of speed bumps is usually as follows:
- To make drivers follow stop-sign or variable message signs to increase road safety for all.
- To prevent road accidents and save several lives on roads, streets, pedestrian crossings, railroad crossings, unmarked crosswalks, and sidewalks.
- To make pedestrians feel safe around vehicles.
- To make parking lots and garages well-maintained and safe.
- When placed before traffic lights or traffic signals, it becomes easier for people to stop at a red light.
- To make law and police enforcement easier and more organized.
Why should you use speed bumps?
If you are interested in installing speed bumps, you should first learn why to use speed bumps. Like other tools such as a rumble strip, speed breaker, speed table, speed hump, speed cushion, warning sign, pedestrian signal, speed limit sign, and orange cone, there are different pros and cons of speed bumps as well.
Here are the primary benefits of speed bumps that will explain why you need to use them.
- Speed bumps force vehicles to travel at a low speed in a slow zone where the risk of collision between pedestrians and vehicles is high.
- They decrease the risk of fatalities that happen every year when vehicular drivers exceed speed limits at roundabouts, roadways, and intersections.
- Speed bumps also create a sense of safety among pedestrians in a high foot traffic area. They make roads safer for people walking on foot.
- Speed bumps decrease the probability of collision between vehicles. This way, they protect expensive cars from being damaged due to the carelessness of drivers.
Though speed bumps have several advantages, there are some problems with speed bumps as well:
- Speed bumps cause noise pollution. When vehicles travel over them at high speed, they produce unwanted noise. This can be especially disturbing in areas that need to be quiet, such as schools, universities, etc. Using alternatives to speed bumps might be the right option in such areas.
- Speed bumps may also damage a passenger car. There is a connection between damage and speed bumps. When vehicles accidentally drive over them at high speed, their tires and internal parts may get damaged due to the sudden jump.
Pros and cons of speed bumps
- Make vehicles go at a safer speed in pedestrian zones.
- They have the potential to reduce the rate of accidents.
- They create a sense of safety among pedestrians or residents of an area.
- They are an easy-to-install and easy-to-remove traffic calming device. Even one person can install them.
- They are less costly compared to some other traffic calming measures.
- They may cause noise pollution.
- They slow down the performance of emergency vehicles, school buses, and trucks (except for speed cushions).
- They require signage and speed limit signs, which residents of an area may not like.
- They may cause vehicular damage and personal injuries to drivers.
Learn more: What is the role of speed bump?
Traffic calming measures
Traffic calming measures are taken to reduce traffic speed and traffic volume in urban or residential areas to create a safer environment for people.
The Department for Infrastructure will decide which measures to use in a particular area.
Before deciding, they will consult with the transportation department, the federal highway administration, local municipalities, emergency vehicle service providers, and local resident representatives.
Common examples of traffic calming options include:
- Speed humps
- Speed bumps
- Speed tables
- Speed cushions
- Rumble strips
- Mini roundabout
- One-way roads
- Stop signs
- Speed signs
- Traffic signs
- Parking signs
- Crossing signs
- No-parking signs
- Pedestrian crossing
- Pavement markings
- Width restriction of lanes
Benefits of traffic calming measures
Traffic-management measures have numerous benefits.
Some of these benefits include:
- They reduce the number of casualties caused by traffic collisions, particularly those involving a cyclist and pedestrian.
- They stop traffic from going through an unsuitable route, such as a construction site, by placing construction signs.
- Traffic calming measures provide road traffic safety and pedestrian safety.
- They reduce speeding vehicles.
- They encourage walking and cycling.
Traffic data and studies show that traffic calming measures have the potential to reduce accidents by 40%.
Each calming measure is suitable for a particular area or situation. A speed bump on the road is one of the most commonly used measures.
Let’s study it a little more to understand its effectiveness and usefulness.
Learn more: Traffic calming measures.
Speed bump types
A traffic-control device such as a speed bump is categorized into different types based on its construction material, style, colour and location where it is installed.
Learn more: Speed bump types.
Let’s see the following list of speed bump types:
Based on their location
See below for details:
- Highway speed bumps: They are installed on main roads to reduce the speed of a motorist, bicyclist or any other vehicle.
- Driveway speed bumps: It is used on public or private driveways as speed control device.
- Gravel or dirt road speed bumps: They reduce the speed of vehicles on dirt and gravel roads to decrease the propulsion of rock and dirt for public safety.
- Parking lot speed bumps: They reduce the acceleration of vehicles passing through parking lots.
- Garage speed bumps: They reduce the collision hazard between vehicles and walkers in a garage.
Based on their style
See below for details:
- Regular: Common shape/style that people usually see around them.
- Square: They come in square shapes, varying in their size.
- Circular: They have a circular shape and reflective surface.
- Portable: They roll up and can be easily removed and installed in a new place.
- Electricity generating: They produce electricity when vehicles pass over them.
- Cable channels: They act as a cable protector to protect plastic wires or cables.
Based on colour
See below for details:
- Yellow and black: These contrasting colours make road bumps visible even in the dark.
- White and black: These colours make them visible from sight distance under the flashing yellow light of a vehicle.
Speed bump materials
Various materials are used to manufacture this traffic-control device for roadways, pedestrian zone, work zone, unmarked crosswalks, pedestrian zone, work zone, unmarked crosswalks, crossings, school crossings, railroad crossings, and uncontrolled intersections.
However, the most common materials for manufacturing speed bumps include plastic, rubber, asphalt, concrete, and steel. Each of these materials has different durability.
It is divided into the following types based on manufacturing materials for speed bumps.
- Plastic speed bumps
Plastic speed bumps are made of recycled plastic and are usually installed in high-traffic areas. They are low-maintenance traffic-management devices as they stay intact for years. They also maintain their colour markings despite exposure to environmental elements.
- Rubber speed bumps
Rubber speed bumps are manufactured of durable rubber. They are easy to install and remove.
After installing rubber speed bumps on a roadway, you can easily detach them to move to another place. They are more suitable for low-traffic areas. They usually have a reflective surface, which makes them easy to detect.
- Asphalt speed bumps
Asphalt is the most commonly used material for making speed bumps. Asphalt speed bumps are easy to repair, and you can also refresh their black and white or black and yellow markings each year.
They also have a water drain in the centre for proper drainage during the rainy season. Since they are permanent fixtures, you cannot move them from one place to another.
- Concrete speed bumps
Concrete speed bumps are placed within the pavement or drive lanes. They are long-lasting and can be marked to increase their visibility.
- Steel speed bumps
Steel speed bumps can withstand heavy vehicle applications, making them suitable for shopping centres, parking lots, and transport deposits.
Learn more: Top 5 materials to manufacture speed bumps!
Speed bump installation
You will need a hammer drill, sledgehammer, steel spikes, and epoxy resins to install speed bumps.
Below are the general steps of the speed bump installation process.
- Mark bolt holes on the pavement by placing a speed bump on the desired area. Use chalk to create marks.
- Remove the road bump and drill holes for each bolt. Clean the area.
- Place the speed bump again. Push bolts inside the bolt holes and tighten them to secure the speed bump.
You can remove a speed bump by opening bolts using suitable tools.
Speed bump installation depends on the construction material, type, and length of a speed bump. Generally, it is short and can be done in 30 to 60 minutes.
You can improve the performance of your speed bumps by using accessories such as end caps. An end cap covers the end of a speed bump to make its edges safer for vehicles and avoid speed bump damage.
You can also buy bolt shields to protect bolts inserted in the pavement. It will help you increase the longevity of a parking curb and speed bump.
Speed bump standards and regulations
Specific speed bump standards and regulations are issued by the Federal Highway Administration to ensure that road bumps are used correctly in the UK.
Regulations regarding installing a speed bump on a private road differ from those on a public road.
In general, you should remember the following points while installing a speed bump.
- Install them on the road or an intersection with a speed limit of 30 mph or below.
- Use street lights if the speed limit of the street or road is more than 20 mph.
- Place signage on roads and streets with a speed limit above 20 mph to provide passenger-car safety.
- The height of a speed bump should not be more than 100mm and less than 25mm.
- To install a speed bump on a private road, contact your local municipalities and residents who also use this road.
- To install a speed bump on a public road, discuss it with your neighbours and then reach out to officials and explain the issue. After evaluating the need and route of emergency vehicles, buses, etc., they will install a speed bump on the desired public road.
Learn more: Speed bump standards and regulations.
Speed bump buying guide
You must consider several factors as a purchasing guide for speed bumps. These factors include:
- Construction material: The construction material should be durable and lasting. If the area has a high traffic volume, plastic speed bumps are a better choice, but if it has moderate to low traffic, go for a rubber speed bump.
- Colour and style: Consider yellow and black bumps if you are going to place them in a dark area.
- Dimensions: Choose speed bumps according to the size of the area where you want to install them.
- Manufacturers: Buy speed bumps from a reliable manufacturer with a good name in this industry.
- Cost: The cost of a speed bump should fall within your budget.
Below are the famous manufacturers of speed bumps that you should consider for your next purchase.
- Traffic Logix
- Sino Concept
Learn more: Speed bump buying guide.
Speed bumps, parking curbs, speed cushions, speed tables, and speed humps are all traffic calming measures that make vehicles reduce their speed.
A speed bump in the road is installed to control traffic flow and calm traffic to provide pedestrians with safety. It ensures pedestrian as well as vehicular safety. However, it may increase traffic noise and damage vehicles.
Speed bumps are divided into categories based on where they are installed and their material, style and colour. When buying a speed bump, you should consider the product’s colour, design, material, cost, manufacturer, and durability.
Different countries have different standards and regulations regarding using and installing speed bumps. In the UK, the height of a speed bump should range from 25mm to 100mm.
Learn the speed bump regulations of your country or area before installing them in your neighbourhood.