Drive a Crooked Mile
Virginia tries a unique approach to slowing traffic down
No, that’s no college prank. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has begun a new project specifically intended to confuse drivers. Zig-zagging white lines are being painted on selected roadways.
These markings are part of an experiment to cause motorists to slow down or brake instinctively before coming to high pedestrian and bicycle areas. The experiment is taking place in Virginia’s Loudoun County at several popular hiking and biking trails that cross roads with heavy and/or fast-moving traffic. Loudoun County is part of the Washington, D.C., area. The zig-zagging lines have been placed in line with the flow of traffic and stretch 500 feet in each direction.
VDOT crews have also installed meters in the roadways to record traffic speed at the crosswalks. Traffic speed and driver behavior will be monitored for one year. If the zig-zagging lines prove effective in slowing down drivers, VDOT may add the markings in other areas throughout the state.
Other states are keeping an eye on the project as well. The safety experiment was modeled after programs in Australia and the United Kingdom that successfully used zig-zagging lines in the road to adjust traffic patterns.