Safety is the highest priority when it comes to climbing behind the wheel. Adhering to traffic signs and driving at responsible speeds is the best way to prevent serious accidents on the road.
And although speed bumps are certainly a contributing factor to ensuring safety, how safe are they for your car? Could there be a better solution that protects people and their vehicles?
The History and Intent of Speed Bumps
Perhaps the earliest adoption of the speed bump occurred in Chatham, New Jersey in 1906. The crosswalk that connected both sides of the street was raised 5 inches using flagstone and cobble.
An article written in The New York Times that same year said, “this scheme of stopping automobile speeding has been discussed by different municipalities, but Chatham is the first place to put it in practice.”
However, physicist, Arthur Compton, is credited with inventing the first “traffic control bump” in 1953. While a chancellor at Washington University in St. Louis Missouri, he wasn’t too keen on the speed at which drivers traveled past Brookings Hall. So he did something about it.
The Effect That Speed Bumps Have on Cars
Many cars have what is called “little ground clearance.” This refers to the space between the lowest point on the bottom of a vehicle and the ground at which it travels. Speed bumps are often constructed so high that low clearance cars start scraping the speed bump before it reaches its peak. This can cause significant damage to the undercarriage.
There are also times that speed bumps aren’t signaled soon enough or are located around curves. If a car does not have ample time to slow down, the speed at which it drives over the bump can destroy its alignment.
Speed bumps can damage other parts of your car as well including the steering and suspension systems, parts of the exhaust, and the shocks.
How to Prevent Damage to Your Car
As a driver, you always want to make sure you are traveling at safe speeds. This will allow you to slow down quicker for those occasional stealth speed bumps. When traveling through neighborhoods or communities right off major highways, it’s best to expect speed bumps. This way you aren’t surprised by Mt. Everest Jr.
If your car is one that has little ground clearance, try coasting over a speed bump diagonally. This will hopefully allow you to avoid scraping the bottom of your vehicle. The head-on approach is what makes riding over speed bumps unpleasant.
An Ideal Situation
In a perfect world, local government officials would push for all speed bumps to be converted to speed humps. Speed humps are built just as high as speed bumps but they are much longer. This results in a gradual incline that is much easier on your vehicle.
Why the speed hump isn’t the standard is baffling. And unfortunately, it appears that the cost significantly outweighs the benefits. Speed bumps are already very expensive to construct and maintain. Converting them all to speed humps would only create a heavier financial burden.
Eh, it was worth a shot, right? Be safe while driving. Curse the speed bumps all you want, but more importantly, drive safe.