In late 2014, the Wisconsin DOT experimented with using orange road markings in three locations. It’s not the most exciting project in the world, but it’s one that could’ve had an expansive effect by now. This is because during the winter, the snow’s salt residue blends with the road lines and make them practically invisible. The orange reflective epoxy paint will be much easier to see, even with a blanket of snow, and the salt won’t interfere with the material. While the idea isn’t original, it’s still worth pursuing in areas that regularly experience heavy snowfall.
It’s not hard to determine the ultimate goal of road markings. Quality Sealcoating says these have always been used to keep everyone in safe proximity from other vehicles, ledges, barriers and other possible obstacles. It’s simple, but imagine a two-way road that uses nothing but broken lines or nothing at all. It would be chaos, overtaking here and crashes there, confirming the self-explanatory but potentially life-saving importance of pavement markings.
Line Marking’s Effect on Vehicles
Cars are the main beneficiary of line markings (obviously), and they do a whole lot more for a driver’s guidance and safety. While signs act as passing reminders, literally, lines are always there to make sure everyone obeys road rules. More than that, they have an effect on how drivers operate their vehicles.
Speed – There wasn’t much that the line markings could do regarding how fast drivers go. Even with pre and post-application data compared, drivers still determine whether or not to reduce speed based on perceived risk. This is for both day and night driving.
Vehicle Positioning – The studies’ results vary, but are still important to keep in mind. On one hand, the positioning effect of line markings are zero. On the other, it helped drivers confine their path, meaning they drove straighter, especially at night.
Reflectivity and Crash Rates – The researchers had a hard time determining the correlation between the two, as markings fade and there’s no way but to review footage. Nevertheless, the studies concluded that there’s pavement markings and car crashes never reached a statistical threshold where it could be dangerous or helpful.
There are many more studies consolidated in this FHWA article, many of which are inconclusive, but the importance of line markings don’t diminish.
Without the Studies
The mere organizational effect of line markings is enough to keep motorists from crashing with each other, turn at the right moment and park using the allocated space. Reflectivity, width or application may differ, but it doesn’t change the fundamental fact that pavement markings do a lot for safety and guidance.
In the FHWA article, there are studies where the focus is not on the markings itself, but on the abilities of drivers, in particular their eye-tracking capability and workload. These factors do not have any tangible connection with the effect of the markings, but it’s important to exclude situations where road safety measures usually play no part.
It doesn’t matter if this is in a residential area or along public infrastructure, like roads and highways, road markings are an important part of the whole driving ecosystem. Without it, it’s pretty much free for all out there everywhere.
Line markings vary on road sizes, but its role stays the same: to keep everyone on the road in check and in order. The results of the studies are important, but in real life, drivers could do with more lines to ensure safety.