Highway measuring devices...maybe?
October 9, 2009 10:20 AM   Subscribe

Question about highway....measuring devices? Not exactly sure.

So where I live (US midwest), there are these orange strips that are placed across the highway every so often - usually in three sets, usually in increasingly close proximity to one another (see here for my faithful recreation). I assume these are measuring traffic patterns, possibly including the various speeds and types of vehicles driving on the highway, but I'm not sure. And I've not yet figured out why they would need three sets with varied spacing. Anyway, I can't figure it out via google, so I figured I'd ask you all. Thanks!
posted by brandman to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Perhaps used by aircraft checking vehicle speed?
posted by ZaneJ. at 10:36 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Are they temporary rumble strips, by any chance? I saw these (drove over these) in a construction zone on I-94 in Michigan just last week.
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:43 AM on October 9, 2009

ZaneJ has it.
They used to have them around my town, and are reintroducing them now. There was a helpful RCMP officer on the radio explaining the yellow lines on the highway just last week.

I can't help you with the three sets or the various spacings, though.
posted by Acari at 10:44 AM on October 9, 2009

Test strips for different types of paint?
posted by davey_darling at 10:47 AM on October 9, 2009

I agree with the aircraft speed checking - measure twice, ticket once.

I've seen them in the Southern United States; white, flanked by signs every so often that indicate speed is measured by aircraft.

White = doesn't snow here.

Look again - if there are any small metal boxes attached, they might actually be for measuring raw traffic data.

Hrm, Orange + Boxes - temporary aircraft speed checking + raw traffic data?
posted by tilde at 10:53 AM on October 9, 2009

Response by poster: They may be temporary rumble strips, based on the link above. The ones I've driven across for the past few weeks are near a construction zone, but I think I've seen them in non-construction zones as well.
posted by brandman at 11:06 AM on October 9, 2009

Rumble strips appear to be meant to be laid lengthwise so you are constantly driving over one rather than cross over them.

I got nothing but speculation though. I remember seeing measuring devices that consist of 2-3 rubber tubes stretched across the street that, I presume, measure traffic patterns when wheels depress them. Maybe these are a more modern version. Laying them out in different spacings might help the accuracy of the data in some way that isn't obvious to me.

Are they reflective at all? Have you seen them at night?
posted by cj_ at 12:32 PM on October 9, 2009

Can you feel them when you drive over them? If not, then they're not going to be rumble strips.
posted by dabug at 12:36 PM on October 9, 2009

Response by poster: Yep, can feel them as I drive over them. They are rectangular in shape, orange, hard enough to make the car 'rumble'. Definitely not the black rubber tubes filled with air that compress when you drive over them.
posted by brandman at 12:41 PM on October 9, 2009

Hrm I take that back, looks like people use them both ways, looking at a google image search. Maybe laying them out in decreasing spacing is so that the effect is less jarring, encouraging you to slow gradually rather than shock you into hitting your brakes.
posted by cj_ at 12:50 PM on October 9, 2009

Related: This is what Japan created out of boring rumble strips (or grooves, in that case).
posted by ddaavviidd at 7:05 PM on October 9, 2009

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