When the automobile was first introduced, Americans embraced the idea of being able to travel wherever and whenever they desired. The first problem they encountered was the scarcity of paved roads on which to operate their automobiles. States, cities and counties responded by building roads to accommodate the rapidly growing number of cars and trucks. It is estimated that in 1904, there were approximately 55,000 automobiles and about 145 miles of paved roads if you exclude city streets. By 1910, there were almost 475,000 automobiles and an estimated 785 miles of paved rural roads. Over the next decade, the number of automobiles increased to more than 9 million.
Parking Lot Striping – The History
More Cars and Better Roads Meant More Accidents
Horse-drawn wagons traveling down a rutted, dusty road were not at great risk of colliding head-on. Automobiles were a different story. Although it might be difficult to understand from a modern perspective, in 1910, the automobile was a new technology that most drivers did not understand very well. Traffic laws were very limited, so drivers with virtually no experience could operate a car wherever — and however — they wanted. Accidents increased, particularly head-on collisions caused when one car crossed into the path of oncoming traffic.
Center Stripes Employed to Avert Collisions
The first center stripes were attempts to reduce the number of collisions on especially treacherous sections of roads. Michigan is credited as the first state to use painted center stripes, installing one on a section of River Road in Trenton during 1911 and another in 1917 on a dangerous curve in Marquette County. Independently, California and Oregon also launched initiatives to paint center stripes in 1917. Over the next decade, virtually all states also began a program of pavement marking.
The Need for Standardized Pavement Markings
By the 1950s, every state had developed its own system of marking pavements. The different systems could be confusing when drivers crossed a state line. For example, in Oregon, center stripes were painted yellow, but in neighboring California, they were painted white. There were often discrepancies in just what each type of line meant; in one state, a broken yellow line meant that drivers could not pass, but in a neighboring state, it might mean the opposite.
When the federal government began planning a system of interstate highways, it became obvious that pavement markings needed to be standardized. However, for almost 20 years, the effort met with limited success outside of the interstates. In 1971, a new manual was published by the Federal Highway Administration that specified white lines in lanes where traffic moved in the same direction and yellow lines if lanes moved in opposite directions. The manual also helped standardize the meanings of solid yellow lines, broken yellow lines, double yellow lines and many other types of pavement markings.
Materials for Pavement Markings
In recent decades, a number of different methods have been developed to mark pavements. Reflective buttons are sometimes used to define lanes or shoulders. Raised markers can be used at crosswalks to assist the visually impaired. However, you are more likely to find thermoplastic markings or painted ones.
• Thermoplastic markings are relatively new. They can sometimes last as long as 10 years, but the average life is between seven and eight years. Thermoplastic markings are heated prior to application to improve adhesion. They are economical, durable and provide excellent reflective properties.
• Most paint used today for pavement markings is water-based. It will seldom last for more than 48 months, and in high-traffic areas, the life is frequently 24 months. Solvent-based paints are more durable, but due to environmental issues, many jurisdictions prohibit the use of solvent-based paints for pavement markings.
About LDC Paving
LDC Paving is a full-service asphalt company serving customers throughout the Houston metropolitan area. Whether you need a parking lot striping or a city street marked, we can help you with all of your pavement marking projects. We also offer asphalt paving, sealcoating, repairs, grading, traffic sign installation and the installation of speed bumps, bollards and car stops. Our crews provide every customer with quality results at competitive rates. Call 832-640-7296 to request a free estimate or submit our convenient online form.
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