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A Little Speed Bump History

Business owners shake their heads when they see drivers blazing through their parking lots at top speeds. These careless drivers could damage property or even harm pedestrians. You know the best way to prevent this scenario is to add a speed bump to your parking lot. But you realize how little you know about speed bumps. You’ve probably driven over many speed bumps in your lifetime without thinking much about them. Here are some interesting things you didn’t know about speed bumps.

1.  Modern Speed Bumps Were Invented by a Renowned Physicist
An early form of speed bumps was implemented in Chatham, New Jersey in 1906. Workers raised crosswalks five inches to reduce drivers’ speed.

However, modern speed bumps were introduced in the 1950s. After winning the Nobel Prize for discoveries in electromagnetic theory, Arthur Holly Compton noticed a problem that was unrelated to his field of expertise. Drivers frequently sped past Washington University, where he worked. In 1953, he designed the first speed bump, which he called a “traffic control bump.”

2.  Speed Bumps Are Known By Many Different Names
Speaking of “traffic control bumps,” speed bumps have many names or nicknames in different languages and dialects:

  • British English-“sleeping police officer”
  • New Zealand English-“judder bar”
  • Puerto Rico-“muerto” (dead person)
  • Argentina-“lomos de burro” (donkeys’ backs)

Although speed bumps go by different names, these examples show that they are commonplace and important in many parts of the world.

3.  Speed Bumps Can Be Made of Several Different Materials
Speed bumps are typically made of asphalt or concrete because of these materials’ durability. However, speed bumps can also be made of rubber, metal, or recycled plastic. Rubber speed bumps can be bolted to the road, making it possible to remove them later.

4.  Speed Bumps are Different from Speed Humps
You may assume that speed bumps and speed humps are interchangeable. However, speed bumps and speed humps differ in several important ways:

  • Speed reduced-While speed bumps reduce speed to as low as 5 mph, speed humps reduce speed to about 20 mph.
  • Use-Speed bumps are often placed in parking lots and private roads and driveways. However, they are not used on public roads because they may endanger drivers who don’t expect them. Speed humps can be placed on public roads and are often placed near crosswalks. They aren’t placed on major roads where they could disrupt the routes of emergency vehicles and buses.

Despite their differences, speed bumps and speed humps both perform the same function: reduce vehicle speed to promote safety for drivers and pedestrians. They can also improve traffic flow and reduce collisions.

5.  There Are Other Types of Speed-Reducing Devices.
While less common, other types of speed bumps exist. They include:

  • Dynamic speed bumps can sense the speed of a vehicle and only activate if the vehicle reaches certain speeds.
  • Speed cushions are several small speed humps with a space between each. Wide emergency vehicles and buses can straddle the speed cushion and continue at their normal speed.
  • Speed tables consist of a long speed hump with a flat section in the middle. They cause a less noticeable decrease in speed than other speed devices.

Modern technology has made all kinds of speed bumps increasingly safer and more durable.