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(Courtesy of Engadget) <object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTowx0zP_6M&hl=en_US&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTowx0zP_6M&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>
We happen to know of a housing development in Southern California that recently had its central road repaved. Out went the crumbling asphalt and nasty old speed bumps, and in went shiny new black pavement... and an additional helping of nasty new speed bumps. The paving company had actually doubled the number of bumps, presumably in an attempt to slow down traffic through this residential area. What actually resulted was cars now speeding up even quicker and slowing even faster between the bumps, wasting gas, wearing out brakes and putting out more emissions in the process. Too bad they didn't know about these new speed bumps from the fertile minds of designers Jae-yun Kim and Jong-Su Lee. These sleeping policemen actually flatten when the vehicle is traveling the speed limit, but stay upright when someone is speeding. The new design uses a small damper inside to flatten out when a car drives over it at low speed, but higher forces from a faster vehicle keep it upright, causing a nasty jolt. To make them more visible than your typical speed bump, they're outfitted with LEDs all around. The designers say their goal was to encourage drivers to maintain a constant slow speed, reducing the amount of stops and starts made, and thereby the amount of exhaust pollution from the car. The world's first green speed bumps? These are just a concept for now, but hopefully someone will put them into production soon, and bring them to So. Cal.
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