Everything you need to know about speed bumps!

Speed bumps, also referred to as 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 environment for walkers.

Speed bumps are used in several places such as a parking lot, garage, main road, dirt road, and gravel road to ensure traffic and pedestrian safety. Their popular construction materials are plastic, rubber, steel, asphalt, and concrete.

This article has provided a comprehensive guide on what speed bumps are and everything else that you need to know about them.

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What is a speed bump?

To give a brief answer to the question “what is a speed bump?”: a speed bump is a device having a low raised surface that is 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 threshold, judder bar, lying-down policeman, and sleeping policeman.

It was reported in 1906 in In the New York Times that a five-inch rise of the crosswalk above the road surface was implemented. Arthur Holly Compton, who is a Nobel prize winner, is known for inventing the basic speed bump design. He called it “traffic control bumps.”

In 1973, the British Transport published a report on the behaviour of different vehicles for different geometries of speed bumps. At that time, the use of a speed hump on a public road was not allowed. People had still installed them on a private road.

Learn more: What is a speed bump?

Speed bump vs. speed hump

A speed hump is generally wider in shape compared to a speed bump. It has more width. It is gentle on vehicles and makes them reduce speed around 10 mph to 15 mph.

Speed humps are more commonly used on connector roads and city streets where pedestrians have a close interaction 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.

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Role of speed bumps

A speed bump is a versatile tool that people use for many purposes.

Role of speed bumps are usually as below:

  • To make drivers follow a 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.

Learn more: Role of speed bumps.

Pros and cons of speed bumps

Pros:

  • Make vehicles go at a safer speed in pedestrian zones.
  • They have the potential of reducing 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.

Cons:

  • They cause noise pollution.
  • They slow down the performance of emergency vehicles, school buses, and trucks.
  • 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.
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Traffic calming measures

Traffic calming measures are taken to reduce traffic speed and traffic volume in urban or residential areas in order to create a safer environment for people.

The Department for Infrastructure will decide which measures to use in a particular area. They will consult with the department of transportation, the federal highway administration, local municipality, emergency vehicle service providers, and local resident representatives before making any decision.

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

There are numerous benefits of traffic-management measures. 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 of reducing 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 more.

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Speed bump types

The traffic-control device, speed bump, is categorized into different types based on its construction material, style, colour and location where it is installed. Let’s see the following list of speed bumps.

Learn more: Speed bump types.

Based on location

See below 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 a speed control device.
  • Gravel or dirt road speed bumps: They reduce the speed of vehicles on dirt and gravel roads to decrease propel 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 hazard of collision between vehicles and walkers present in a garage.

Based on material

See below details:

  • Asphalt: They are very solid and thus more damaging for vehicles.
  • Concrete: Concrete speed bumps are commonly seen on main roads.
  • Steel: They are sturdy and usually made up of stainless steel.
  • Rubber: It is softer compared to other materials, therefore, less aggressive on vehicles. It can be installed and removed easily.
  • Plastic: It is also softer compared to asphalt and concrete. Some recycled plastic speed bumps have in-built cable channels.
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Based on style

See below 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 as they protect plastic wires or cables.

Based on colour

See below 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 installation

You 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 does not take long 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.

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Speed bump standards and regulations

There are specific speed bump standards and regulations issued by the federal highway administration to ensure that road bumps are used the right way in the UK. Regulations regarding installing a speed bump on a private road are different from installing them on a public road.

In general, you should keep the following points in mind while installing a speed bump.

  • Install them on a road or a road intersection whose speed limit is 30 mph or below it.
  • Use street lights if the speed limit of the street or road is more than 20 mph.
  • Place signage on roads and streets that have 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, first, discuss with your neighbours and then reach out to officials and explain the issue. They will install a speed bump on the desired public road after evaluating the need and route of emergency vehicles, buses, etc.

Speed bump buying guide

There are several factors that you must consider 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 manufacturer who is reliable and has 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 who you should consider for your next purchase.

  • Traffic Logix
  • Seton
  • Checkers
  • Pittman
  • Sino Concept

Speed bumps in different countries

Speed bumps are globally used traffic calming tools that stop vehicles from exceeding the speed limit and prevent hazardous incidents.

Get to know about speed bumps in different countries:

  • Types used in the UK: In the UK, a variety of speed bumps are used in different places. Though the regular speed bump is more common, circular and square speed bumps are usually used in parking lots.
  • Regulation in Canada: Toronto is called the “capital of speed bumps in Canada” for it has speed bumps in several places. If you want to install speed bumps on a public road, then according to Canadian regulations, the traffic on that road should not be more than 1,000 cars per day. After this, official committees decide whether to install it or not.
  • Regulations in Australia: A regular speed hump in Australia is usually 22mm to 75mm in height and has a 100mm to 150mm wide top. It can be made up of different materials.

Conclusion

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 different categories based on where they are installed and what their material, style and colour are. When buying a speed bump, you should consider the colour, design, material, cost, manufacturer, and durability of the product.

Different countries have different standards and regulations regarding the use and installation of speed bumps. In the UK, the height of a speed bump should range from 25mm to 100mm. Learn speed bump regulations of your country or area before installing them in your neighbourhood.

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