Traffic Islands - a man made hazard

Be aware of traffic islands, also known as "calming islands." The idea is to place curb height obstructions in the roadway to get motorists to slow down for fear of hitting them.

That's exactly what they do - they make motorists fearful to the point of making those drivers a hazard for others.

I've heard they work, and I've heard that nobody likes them - both comments from the same engineer that used to install these concrete hazards.

The take away here is that they're in the roadway and they present a hazard to you and your vehicle during normal and abnormal driving conditions. Here's why:

  • They are very similar to a concrete parking stop placed somewhere in the road - not exactly where one might expect to find such an obstruction. You need to key your eyes peeled for them.
  • Often the edges of these islands with curbing aren't clearly marked, so even if you see them, you could run into them under conditions of poor visibility like fog, rain and after sunset. Look closely at the curbing associated with these concrete islands and you'll see plenty of tire marks where people have run into them repeatedly.
  • Drivers will inch out of their lane to make certain they avoid hitting the traffic islands, and this could mean entering your lane of traffic or crossing over the double yellow line into oncoming traffic.
  • If you need to escape from a traffic mishap, the islands often give you no place to go, so you wind up in the traffic mishap or you wind up creating your own mishap on the concrete island.

Here in Cheyenne we have one street with calming islands and it's common to have cars edge their way into oncoming traffic for fear of hitting them. I frequently avoid the street, and I don't travel on it when there is snow or low visibility.

I'm not concerned about hitting the islands. I'm concerned about other drivers squeezing into my lane and hitting me.

My personal view is that traffic islands stuck in the roadway to slow traffic are simply a nuisance that shouldn't be there, but they are so we need to be aware and well prepared to deal with them.





Done with Traffic Islands, take me back to Safe Driving

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