VDOT Tries Paint to Promote Road Safety
Traffic engineers are always trying to get drivers to pay attention to the road. Virginia is experimenting with one of those methods on two roads in Loudoun County where the Washington & Old Dominion Trail crosses.
This week, Virginia Department of Transportation workers painted zigzag white lines along Belmont Ridge Road where it approaches the trail crossing. They will do the same on Sterling Boulevard next week, then study the results to see if the paint should be applied elsewhere as well.
The zigzag lines, painted right down the middle of each lane, will certainly cause drivers to focus on the road and probably cause them to slow down. These are good things, as they approach the crossings, which are marked by white stripes and yellow signs on poles, but not by signal lights.
Cars are moving fast as they approach the crossing. Chances are a reduction in the posted speed limit at the crosswalk approach, or another warning sign farther back, would not have the desired effect. In this case, pavement markings can be used to communicate the "slow down" message.
While the technique is used overseas, this is still experimental in the United States. Virginia had to get permission from the U.S. Department of Transportation to set this up as an official experiment, and the Virginia Transportation Research Council will monitor the results to see if it has found an effective -- and relatively cheap -- traffic safety tool.
Erica Garman wrote about this on her Living in Loco blog in the online Loudoun Extra. Commenters have mixed feelings. One wonders if confused drivers will try to stay to the right of the zigzag. What's your guess on how this will work out?
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