How do you get drivers to slow down on dangerous roads? Virginia transportation officials think you can trick them with an optical illusion and they're giving it a test on one hazardous boulevard in Fairfax County.
In just a few short hours, VDOT crews put down some strange-looking markings on a section of a two-lane winding road to try to make it safer.
Last summer on a half-mile stretch of Lee Chapel Road between the Fairfax County Parkway and 123, a teenage girl was killed when she ran off the side and hit a tree. That tragedy, plus a high accident rate overall, put pressure on VDOT to do something.
It led to this pilot project, a first in Virginia. They’re called speed bars.
Pieces of white road tape are melted to the pavement on each side of the road. They're placed at decreasing intervals to basically trick drivers into thinking they're going too fast.
VDOT researchers found 85% of the drivers on this stretch speed considerably over the 40 miles per hour speed limit. Traffic engineers will evaluate speed data next week and again in three months to see if the optical illusion is doing the trick.
Optical speed bars are being used in several places in the United States. But they've been used longer in Britain where a study found speed bars reduced both fatal accidents and those with serious injuries.