Optical Speed Bars Might Trick Drivers into Slowing Down
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is using a low tech solution to trick drivers into slowing down.
About two-feet long and a foot wide, the markers are nothing special. But Harrell, a Virginia Department of Transportation traffic engineer, hopes they will help create an optical illusion that could save lives. VDOT is betting there’s enough magic in the illusion that even the biggest lead feet will be tricked into slowing down.
Called optical speed bars, the plastic strips were placed yesterday at intervals that narrow from 24 feet at the start to 15 feet at the end along a half-mile stretch of Lee Chapel Road in Fairfax County. When someone drives over them, the strips create a sort of flip-book effect that makes the motorist think the car is moving faster than it is. The illusion is also meant to get drivers’ attention so they will slow down as they approach the notoriously treacherous curve between the Fairfax County Parkway and Route 123. “This is super low-tech, pretty inexpensive, and hopefully it’s a solution to speeding out here,” VDOT spokesman Ryan Hall said.
An interesting idea, although presumably one that will only work until people who drive the route regularly figure it out.