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The Virtual Speed Bump

To reduce excessive speeding and agressive driving in its residential neighborhoods, Philadelphia has resorted to tricking drivers. As part of its "Drive CarePhilly" campaign, the...
by | July 16, 2008

To reduce excessive speeding and agressive driving in its residential neighborhoods, Philadelphia has resorted to tricking drivers. As part of its "Drive CarePhilly" campaign, the city's Department of Streets laid down a fake speed bump in a Northeast neighborhood. The fake speed bump is a flat piece of plastic burned into the street with blue, white and orange triangles designed to look like three-dimensional pyramids from afar, conveying the illusion that a driver is about to go over a real speed bump. At $60 to $80 a pop, the 3-D markings, which contain glass beads for nighttime visibility, are a fraction of the cost of real speed bumps, which cost $1,500 and up. First tested in Phoenix in 2006 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, officials found the marking's effectiveness wore off over time. But Philadelphia, which has already seen a 13-mile-per-hour drop in speeds around the fake bump, maintains it will act like flashing lights in a school zone, reminding drivers to slow down. The city plans to add the virtual humps to between 60 and 100 streets. The NHTSA is partially funding the Drive CarePhilly safety project to learn if the 3-D markers can also reduce pedestrian accidents. To learn more, contact the Philadelphia Department of Streets at 215-686-5460.

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