The Effect of Centerline Treatments on Driving Performance


Kathleen Harder, John Carmody, John Bloomfield

March 2002

Report no. MnDOT 2002-35



In pursuit of unimpeded high peak traffic flow, the Design Guidelines for Super Two Highways (Ekern, 1998) suggested several treatments for the right side of roadway. But the left side is where drivers experience great speed-differentials between their own vehicles and oncoming traffic. Harder, Carmody, and Bloomfield examined centerline treatments and possible recommendations for Super Two guidelines. The current US standard (12-foot lane / 4-inch dashes) was compared with combinations of wider lanes, wider dashes, and buffer areas. With each of the centerline treatments examined, participants kept the left side of the vehicle in the approximate center of the lane. All treatments resulted in shifting the center of the lane farther from the centerline than it was in the standard condition. Two conditions appear to be most effective in keeping drivers away from the centerline: 1) 14-foot lanes with both longitudinal rumble strips and 4-inch wide dashes marking the centerline, and 2) 12-foot lanes with 4-foot buffer marked by 4-inch wide dashes. However, implementing any of the centerline treatments should result in vehicles driving farther from the centerline, thus making it less likely that drivers will meet an oncoming vehicle. Data was gathered in a driving simulator. Further testing should be conducted in real driving situations.

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