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Zig-zag lines being painted on purpose April 20, 2009 - 12:36pm Zig-zag lines being painted in Loudoun. (VDOT) Adam Tuss, wtop.com LOUDOUN -- Behind the wheel, you want the least amount of distraction possible. So why is a local transportation agency painting crooked lines on the road on purpose? The Virginia Department of Transportation says it's part of a safety campaign to get drivers to slow down in a high pedestrian and bicycle area. The 500 feet of zig-zagging lines are painted on the ground on Belmont Ridge Road, where it intersects with the Washington and Old Dominion trail in Loudoun County. "It is a low cost strategy to get motorists to slow down as they approach the bike trail and pedestrian path," says VDOT's Mike Salmon. "While at first motorists may be a little disoriented, the main point is to get them to pay attention and slow down through that area." There are plans to also paint the crooked lines on Sterling Boulevard where it intersects with the W&OD trail. VDOT says similar programs have been successful in the United Kingdom and Australia. The transportation agency will study the zig-zagging lines for a year and see if they actually reduce speeds. If the lines prove effective, you can expect to see more of them on the ground. (Copyright 2009 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
Just follow the light: Traffic lines stay brighter going in one direction A recent study by North Carolina State University has shown that the stripes dividing our nation's roadways are brighter when they are applied in the same direction that traffic is flowing. In many cases, the twin center lines dividing opposing lanes are painted at the same time, making them more visible in one direction than the other. The issue seems to center around the glass beads that are mixed in with the paint. These reflective beads are most effective when properly oriented. Using a device called – we're not making this up – a retroreflect-o-meter, the team discovered that the difference in the reflective values of painted lines put down in the proper direction was great enough that they could sometimes last an entire year longer than if they were painted in the opposite direction. These findings indicate that the transportation authorities could save quite a bit of money if they go the extra step of ensuring the lines are applied in the correct direction. Additionally, safety would be improved since the lines would be more clearly visible at night. Other more costly alternatives include adhesive tapes with glass beads already embedded in the proper direction. Who knew? http://blog.wired.com/cars/2009/03/traffic-marking.html