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Speed Bumps and Humps: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Are speed bumps the same as speed humps?

A.

Not at all. Speed bumps and speed humps are two different traffic calming devices. While speed bumps are higher and function by requiring a shorter travel distance and consequently speed reduced to about 5 mph, speed humps are comparatively lower in height and have a significantly gentler slowing function requiring a speed between 15 to 25 mph. This is the reason why speed bumps are used more in parking lots and on commercial driveways while speed humps are more common on public roads. 


Where a speed bump is between 1 and 2 feet in length and can be up to 6 inches in height, a speed hump is typically 12 feet in length and between 3-4 inches in height.

Q. Can speed bumps/humps be installed on private roads?

A.

Speed humps are usually meant for use on public roadways. Private roads and commercial driveways may install speed bumps depending on the applicable state and local laws. While some states entirely prohibit the installation of speed bumps on private roads, others permit the installation of reasonable bumps as long as the easement holder’s right of passage is not obstructed. You may also need your county’s approval, which may also have specific technical requirements for roads that may have the bumps and for the bumps as well. Proper speed bump signage may be required to identify the upcoming bumps. 


This resource provides more detailed information about installing speed bumps on private roads.

Q. Are there any design requirements for speed bumps/humps?

A.

While ITE guidelines do exist for the application and design of speed humps, there are no specific nation-wide design guidelines for speed bumps. The application of these as well as any design specifications are likely to vary across states and municipalities. 


Guidelines differentiate speed bumps specifically ‘A speed bump is much shorter, between 1 and 2 feet in length (in the direction of travel). A speed bump can be as much as 6 inches in height. A speed bump is typically found in a parking lot or commercial driveway, but not on a public roadway.’

Q. How effective are speed bumps/humps in controlling speed?

A.

Speed bumps and humps can prove to be rather effective speed control devices when used properly. While speed control should be a consequence of good road design and clearly posted speed limit signs, traffic calming measures like bumps and humps can certainly help achieve lower speeds. That being said, speed bumps and speed humps should be clearly marked and preferably accompanied by strategically posted signs to give vehicles sufficient time to slow down and prevent potential damage to the body. 

Q. How can a neighborhood get a speed bump/hump installed?

A.

Neighborhoods can get a speed bump or a speed hump installed in their area by submitting a formal request to the relevant city/county authority who may honor the request based on the features and suitability of the proposed site. 


In most cases, the request can be submitted online by visiting the authority website and it may require the signatures of a certain number of neighborhood residents. Read on for more information.

Q. Are there any other speed control means other than speed bumps?

A.

In addition to speed bumps and speed humps, there are a variety of traffic calming tools and measures, each with a unique design and application. While some of these, such as vertical deflections, horizontal shifts, and roadway narrowings work by reducing vehicular speed, others like diagonal diverters, half and full closures, and median barriers obstruct traffic in one or more directions and reduce cut-through traffic. 


This ITE page on traffic calming measures provides a list of the various measures along with detailed fact sheets about each measure.

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Additional QnA Resources

Speed Bump Signs & Parking Stops(36498)

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