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Speed Bumps – Traffic Calming Devices with a Kick

Although highly controversial, speed bumps have been used as a form of traffic calming since the early 1900's. Speed bumps are a section of pavement or rubber, affixed to pavement that is raised between 3 and 4 inches above the normal level of the road, with the specific intent of forcing drivers to slow down as they pass over them. Most commonly found in parking lots, they are also found in some residential areas and schools which are particularly concerned about the speed with which motorists traverse the area. The first American use of a speed bump type device was in Chatham, New Jersey, when the town decided to raise their crosswalks by 5 inches, forcing motorists to slow down from their top cruising speed – which was, at the time approximately 30 miles per hour – so that pedestrians could safely cross the road.

Speed bumps are controversial because many people feel that they are more of a nuisance than they are a help. A speed bump that is constructed with the wrong measurements can be very difficult for some sports cars and other vehicles that ride low to traverse, even at the slowest of speeds. They have been known to cause damage to the undercarriage and in one or two extreme cases, cars have become stuck on top of them. Opponents of speed bumps also state that they can cause excess noise, especially when large vehicles cross over them, which is irritating if they are in a residential area. Some motorists are opposed to their implementation because they can cause real damage to a vehicle if taken at too great a speed.

Although originally constructed of concrete or asphalt, modern speed bumps are often made of a very dense rubber and that is capable of being removed when needed. Usually black with some sort of striping or other visual aid, they are lightweight and easy to use. Much safer than their concrete counterparts, they are not nearly as likely to cause damage to any car, while still being extremely potent at slowing traffic down to a reasonable speed.

Though a highly controversial traffic calming device, speed bumps are still very widely used. The United States is not the only country to employ the speed bump. They can be found throughout Europe as well. Regardless of what you think of them, there is no denying that they are very effective at enforcing a very low speed limit in the area in which they are present.