Extra wide stripes no help with speeds; crash impacts uncertain

The in basket: On a recent car trip to Shelton, I noticed that the state had applied the experimental wide striping to the edge and lane lines on Highway 3 through the Pickering Road intersection north of the city. The painted lines are twice as wide as the ordinary striping.

The wider lines were installed two years ago on South Shore Road (Highway 106) along Hood Canal and on Highway 303 between Purdy and Allyn. The idea was to give drivers the impression the highway is narrower than it is, causing them to drive more slowly. At the time, the state said it would evaluate the striping over the ensuing year to see if it accomplished that goal.

I asked what that evaluation showed.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham Baker of the state highway department’s Olympic Region, says,

“Applying the 8-inch wide striping was a pilot project to evaluate its effectiveness as a speed-management and crash-reduction tool. Wider striping makes the lane appear more narrow, and we wanted to see if that perception deterred speeding and helped people stay in the lane.

“Our before/after speed study showed no significant difference in operating speeds. We are still collecting crash data to see if the wider striping is helping people stay in the lane. It takes 3-4 years to collect enough data to have meaningful conclusions. At present we do not plan to apply wider striping in new locations.”

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