Everyone hits a bump in the road from time to time, both metaphorically and literally. However, we are not here to wax poetic about life or spirituality. Today it’s all about those things in the middle of the street. That’s right, we’re going to talk about speed bumps and humps.
In case you didn’t already know, speed bumps are designed to slow down automobile traffic. The first speed bump was introduced in the infancy of the automobile age in Chatham, New Jersey. In 1906 workers raised crosswalks five inches to reduce drivers’ speed. Back then, the average automobile’s top speed was a blistering 30 mph. With little to no suspension on those vehicles, this five-inch deviation would cause quite a jolt to the motorists. A few decades later, the modern speed bump was introduced in the 1950s by a Nobel Peace Prize-winning physicist named Arthur Holly Compton. This guy was tired of motorists speeding by his office at Washington University and decided to take matters into his own hands and solve the problem. So he designed the speed bump, which he called a “traffic control bump.”
Speed bumps have since become a go-to traffic calming device across the world. The use of various materials (including asphalt, concrete, metal, plastic, and rubber) allows for their use in a wide variety of climates, road conditions, and traffic intensities. There are even dynamic speed bumps that only activate if a vehicle is traveling above a certain speed. However, speed bumps also have their fair share of detractors, which claim that they can slow the response time of emergency vehicles, cause damage to some vehicles, increase traffic noise, or even cause spinal damage.
Now I know that everyone is wondering the difference between a speed bump and a speed hump. Simply put, speed humps utilize a wider traverse distance (12-14ft) and are commonly located on public streets as they are less aggressive at low speeds. On the other hand, speed bumps are most often seen in parking lots and private streets to keep speeds as low as five mph. Both are designed with the same intent but are utilized for different purposes.
So next time you need to slow down your vehicle while approaching a speed bump or hump, give it a little approving nod. Know that even though it only has one job, it is doing it well. And if you have a fear of speed bumps, be strong and slowly get over it.