Safety and Education Committee Report

The Rumble Fumble

Rumble Strips help prevent lane departure which is the leading cause of roadway death and NHDOT has plans for many more of them. Those recently installed have generated numerous noise complaints and a moratorium on further installation is in effect. The negative feedback was unexpected but is the result of ignoring the facts at hand. They save lives but also generate noise, shorten surface lifespan, are hazardous for two-wheeled vehicles and the minimum speed for them is 45 MPH. The innocent should not suffer when protecting us from those that are irresponsible.

Noise generation is speed related and those going the posted speed find it easier to stay in their lane. Traffic calming is “outside the scope” of this project but we cannot ignore this elephant in the room. Most of our secondary roads are posted at or below 40 MPH which is the threshold for fatalities. The operating speed [85th percentile] is often significantly higher and the death rate at 50 MPH is 10x higher. Many fewer people will die by controlling excessive speed alone rather than installing rumble strips without it. A perception of needless delay is sure to cause complaints but operating speeds on secondary roads above 40 MPH have little effect on capacity or time in transit. Enforcement cannot take the place of proper design and 10' travel lanes reduce speed by 7-1/2 MPH compared to those >11'. These speed commensurate travel lanes cannot prevent all ROR but may be all that is required in many places. Where they've been installed the crash rate has decreased [>25%], surface lifespan has doubled, and the time in transit has decreased [>10%] with a 30% overall savings in costs. I'm sure that anyone awoken by noisy rumble stripes wants proof that operating speeds as posted are not part of the answer.

It is cheaper to do it right the first time and remediation costs are a significant factor contributing to NHDOT's budget shortfall. I don't know how accurately the plans were followed but without addressing excessive speed this project it is inherently flawed and remediation for noise abatement is needed in many places. Non-compliance without documentation is ineligible for federal funding and our new president's focus on cost control is sure to increase accountability. The [undocumented?] non-compliant rumble strip in front of Hudson's Alvirne High School [35 MPH w/11-1/2' travel lanes] is but one of the many areas where 10' travel lanes should have been tried first. The re-striping of lanes is done annually and installing 10' travel lanes requires only a little more paint with remediation being a simple matter. Alerting out of control motorists by disturbing sleep and endangering other users at a higher cost should be our last choice instead of the first. We need efficient roads that safely accommodate all users at the lowest reasonable cost and not all fatalities are caused by ROR.

When a problem is properly defined the solution is obvious.

Bill Fisk
Safety and Education


Make sure to wear at least one item of reflective outerwear apparel, such as a reflective vest, jacket, or helmet strip, during the period from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise.

Safety and Education Coordinator

Biking 101