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The history you don’t know about speed bumps!

Many entrepreneurs are frustrated and at their wits’ end when they find a driver speeding through their company parking lot. Drivers may not realize that their careless actions can damage property and endanger pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists.

The best and most effective way to prevent this problem is to install speed bumps in the firm’s parking lot. Despite its modest appearance, this speed limit control offers several advantages.

People may have passed by this mound many times during their lives, but they are unaware of what lies beneath it. It’s not something they’re likely to think about very much, if ever. The speed bump, on the other hand, has a fascinating history.

Do you want to know more about this topic? We also have an article talking about what is a speed bump.

Rubber speed ramp also called speed bump made of vulcanized recycled rubber used for car park management

Who invented speed bumps?

Arthur Holly Compton, a well-known physicist credited with inventing the modern-day speed bump, was born in Wooster, Ohio.

This excellent idea originated from his concern about fast-moving cars passing by Brooking Hall, one of the places where he worked. Arthur was a counsellor at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, at the time.

Arthur witnessed great danger due to a car speeding along the road. Drivers and their cars are not the only ones at risk; pedestrians, cyclists, and property owners are all at hazard.

Therefore, he decided to concentrate on finding practical and efficient techniques to reduce vehicle speed using his physics knowledge. He established a double and single bump with an angled side. This tool features a 7-inch higher centre and an almost flat top form.

He named this design a “traffic control bump”. Some people refer to Arthur’s invention as “Holly Hump” after the back of his name. Over time, this name changed to the speed bump as we know it today.

Addressing the dangers of high-speed vehicles, Compton’s invention became a cornerstone for traffic calming devices globally. His brilliance, evident in contributions to both physics and traffic engineering, showcased the versatility of his ideas in addressing various safety issues.

Arthur Holly Compton is who invented the modern-day speed bump.

When and where were speed bumps invented?

Speed bumps have been there for thousands of years in the old form, with models that virtually match the design of today’s modern speed bumps but with a flat top.

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      This speed reduction control device existed long before the high-speed motor vehicle was invented. The discovery of an old Roman city at Pompeii attests to this. Various forms of road traffic safety devices are installed on the city streets.

      However, when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, the city was engulfed in a lava sea. This was one of the worst incidents in European history.

      The ramps and bumps to enhance carriage and chariot speed control were some of the road safety devices discovered on the streets of Pompeii during excavations. This finding also marked the start of the construction of safe vehicular and pedestrian crossings.

      They built a crosswalk on unpaved roads at the time by increasing its elevation using stones. What they’ve come up with is pretty suitable for vehicle design and speed in the twentieth century. The approach is, however, still quite basic.

      The streets of Pompeii

      In 1906

      The city of Chattam Borough in New Jersey has built a speed breaker by elevating the crosswalk. The New York Times published this information in the early twentieth century, decades before Compton invented the traffic control bump.

      The idea arose while the Chattam government discussed how to make the road surface uneven in many municipalities around the country to slow down vehicle speed.

      Finally, they came up with the idea of making the crosswalk 5 inches higher than the road level. It is a kind of coercive way of governing. The driver will have no choice but to lower the speed of his vehicle when he sees this mound in front of his eyes.

      A raised crosswalk with white markings to ensure pedestrians' safety.

      On April 22, 1906, this idea was implemented on Chattam Street and then published by many media, such as local newspapers and the New York Times. That day went down in automotive history as well. The authority is in charge of automobile speed control for the first time.

      However, as technology advances, so does the automotive industry. The industry has released many car models. As a result, Chatham’s first speed bump becomes increasingly hazardous to road users, particularly drivers.

      In 1953

      The year Arthur Holy Compton, as previously noted, created a contemporary version of the speed bump known as the traffic control bump. For years, this version has overtaken the Chattam version.

      The design of speed bumps is also evolving. This calming traffic measure has long been shaped like a parabolic form with a high curving top in the centre.

      This is intended to prevent collisions when emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks pass by a road but cannot see the speed signage on the driveway.

      Installation of speed bumps on the road is often carried out in conjunction with road construction. This method is specifically for speed bumps made of asphalt and concrete. That is when the concrete pavement process is carried out.

      Recently, ground speed bumps made of asphalt and concrete have been used less and less. Several other options are cheaper and easier to move, such as rubber, plastic, metal, tarmac, etc.

      A black speed bump on the road to reduce speed.

      When were speed bumps introduced in the UK?

      Speed bumps were first implemented on UK roads in 1983. However, this traffic safety device existed several years earlier on European roads around the 1970s.

      At this time, European urban planning and transportation engineers are trying to put in place traffic safety methods, including these speed barrier tools.

      But unfortunately, it wasn’t easy to do because of the high traffic volume in Europe then. As a result of the automotive world’s rapid expansion, this tragedy was triggered by the large-scale manufacture of numerous modern vehicles.

      According to Department of Transportation regulations in the United Kingdom, the installation of speed bumps must be coordinated with the municipal council’s traffic plan committee, which is in charge of planning the installation of speed bumps. Please remember that these driving regulations were recently established in the United Kingdom.

      According to UK traffic data, there are around 42,000 speed bumps across the country. They are most commonly seen in school, work, slow, and pedestrian zones.

      Some cyclists are riding over a black and yellow speed bump.

      Speed bumps dimension in the UK

      See below important points:

      • According to UK federal traffic rules, a suitable speed bump should have a height of no less than 25 mm and a length of no less than 900 mm.
      • The elevated part of the speed bump should be no more than 100 mm to avoid damaging the automobile.
      • Because of these dimensions, all cars will be forced to slow down to 5 miles per hour.
      • As a result, warning signs, speed limit signs, or pedestrian signals must be placed several meters before the speed bump to alert cars.
      A black and yellow speed bump with a length of 900mm, height of 100mm.


      A speed bump is a very important traffic management tool.

      Besides reducing vehicle speed, this tool also functions to regulate parking space. These calming traffic measures are commonly found in the neighbourhood, parking lots, road crossings, accident-prone areas, school crossings, and pedestrian crossings.

      This article introduced some interesting historical knowledge about speed bumps. By knowing the history of speed bumps, we can better understand the benefits of speed bumps for pedestrian safety, calm traffic acceleration, slow traffic, bicycle safety, and management of parking lots.



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