Safer Road Edges

Mar 23, 2011


The North Carolina Department of Transportation is trying a new resurfacing technique intended to help drivers who drift off the road. A pilot program is starting Johnston County that uses a piece of paving equipment called the Safety Edge. Crews add a 30 degree angle of asphalt between the surface of a road and the shoulder. Current resurfacing projects leave a vertical drop-off at the edge of roads, which is filled in with loose materials, but can erode over time.

DOT safety engineer Shawn Troy says tires can get stuck in that edge when drivers try to get back on the road:

"And when that tire finally releases, that's where you get that overcorrection issue because the wheel basically jerks out of your hands, the tire grabs, and you go up onto the pavement. And you may go into the other lanes of travel or you may go all the way across the road."

The DOT has tested the Safety Edge in three other North Carolina counties in the past few years. Research from the Federal Highway Administration says nearly all drivers and vehicles can recover from running off the road if there is an angled edge.