Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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Rumble strips

Rumble strips along a Wisconsin roadway
Rumble strips along a Wisconsin roadway

WisDOT has been installing shoulder rumbles along divided highways, including freeways/interstates, for over 20 years.

To reduce the number and severity of roadway departure crashes, or run-off-the-road and cross center line crashes on 2-lane, rural, undivided roads, WisDOT's goals are to keep vehicles on the roadway, enable a safe recovery to the driver lane, and reduce the severity of crashes that occur.

More than one-third of Wisconsin fatalities have been due to roadway departure crashes, with 90 percent occurring in rural areas.

Center line and shoulder rumble strips are proven, cost-effective prevention measures, by alerting drivers via noise and vibration when they drift from the driving lane, allowing them to readjust their driving.

Rumble strips may be milled (ground), rolled, or formed. Rumble stripes are rumble strips that have a reflective paint line applied over the rumbles. The reflective paint helps to increase visibility in wet weather conditions.

Two types of rumble strips

  • Shoulder rumble strips – Placed on highway shoulders along the edge of the travel lane, to prevent single vehicle run-off-the-road crashes.
  • Center line rumble strips – Placed on or near the center line, to prevent head-on crashes and opposite direction sideswipe crashes. They can also be helpful to prevent some crashes when a driver veers across the center line.

Rumble strips are also useful to:

  • Assist motorists when driving during inclement weather or when visibility is poor.
  • Aid snowplows to clear off lane perimeters.

(video courtesy the Federal Highway Association)


Research shows that shoulder rumbles reduce fatality and injury crashes by 29 percent and center line rumbles reduce head on and sideswipe crashes by 44 percent and total crashes by 9 percent. They can reduce by millions the total economic costs from roadway departure crashes. According to national statistics, rumbles help reduce fatal and severe injury crashes and save hundreds of lives in Wisconsin.

For more information:

SSI - Contacts Questions about the content of this page:
Jerry Zogg, jerry.zogg@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: June 4, 2014

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