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Speed humps vs speed bumps, both sound similar, right? That’s why these terms can be confusing to many who try to understand road safety measures. And that's perfectly genuine. 

Like similar names, the core function of these road safety measures is similar – to slow down vehicles and control speed. Both have the ultimate purpose of reducing road accidents mainly due to the fast speed of vehicles running on the road. 

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So, in this blog, we'll learn about speed bumps and humps. Then, we'll dig deeper into all major differences between both. 

Let’s get started:

What are Speed Humps?

What are Speed Humps

Also known as road humps or undulations, speed humps are mainly installed for 10-15 mph speed zones. You can spot them on link roads or local streets where traffic should flow smoothly.

In such areas, excessive speed endangers pedestrians. School zones, public parks, and playgrounds often use speed humps in traffic regulation and management.

Speed humps give a gentle rocking sensation when a car passes over it at the posted speed limit. If someone drives over it at an unsafe speed, the hum will jar the vehicle, putting occupants in discomfort.

It can also cause disruption to the loaded cargo in the vehicle. Also, vehicles should pass over speed humps with both wheels, which reduces the chance of bottoming out.

You can find speed humps in many different profiles and travel lengths. This affects the level of discomfort they create when a speeding vehicle passes over it.

The normal range of travel length is 3-20 feet. Travel length longer than your vehicle can create up-and-down motions, and shorter than this creates rocking movements as each pair of wheels passes over it.

Speed humps are placed in a series for reducing speed through a long corridor. But these are not ideal for emergency routes, arterial roads, or other streets where cars can drive on a shoulder and easily evade the hump. So, these are usually placed in areas with curbs and closed sewers. 

What are Speed Bumps?

Speed bumps are a more aggressive form of traffic regulating measures compared to speed humps. So, these are highly effective in areas that see cars and pedestrians sharing the same space closely.

Some examples are driveways and parking lots. It generally slows down traffic to 2-10 mph so that people and cars get enough time to react safely.

You won't see any speed bumps on public roads. It's because they need vehicles to a near stop for passing over them. This can cause damage to cars that run at normal speeds. 

Ideally, speed bumps are 2-4 inches high, but their travel length is shorter than speed humps. These obstacles remain under the tire for less than half of the full wheel rotation.

The height to travel distance ratio causes a bounce in the vehicle, shaking occupants and cargo in it. Speed bumps are much smaller compared to the vehicles passing over them. Therefore, the axle will cross separately, and the car moving at a fast speed receives two substantial jolts. 

You can place speed humps at intervals for the reduction in speed. These obstacles are usually spaced to make it comfortable for vehicles to pass over them in any space. These are mainly used in small geographical areas. 

Interestingly, speed bumps are known as sleeping policemen in the UK. They have got a different name in other countries. For example, they're called speed breakers in India, road turtles in the Southern USA, and judder bars in New Zealand.

Speed Humps and Speed Bumps: Weather Effects 

When it comes to weather variables, both traffic calming measures get affected. For example, it can be difficult to spot them during rain or in the dark. 

What distinguishes them in the context of weather is their application in bad climates. Both perform differently during snowy days. They don't support snowploughs, and speed bumps cause more hassle.

Because speed humps are less invasive, they don't cause much trouble with snow ploughing. For easy snow ploughing, many plastic speed bumps can be removed from the ground during colour weather. These types of speed bumps are great in areas that remain covered in snow for most of the year.

Speed Humps and Speed Bumps: Installation

The installation processes for both speed humps and speed bumps are almost similar. However, the difference exists when it comes to the installation time. It’s because a speed hum covers the larger road surface.

You can choose from different installation processes according to the material used for constructing them. For example, in order to install plastic or rubber devices, you need to bolt a pre-formed piece to the road. These materials often cause less damage to vehicles.

Speed humps and speed bumps made from asphalt follow a different installation process. It’s done by layering asphalt in the right shape until the desired height has been achieved.

Because of asphalt’s density, it is highly effective when it comes to slowing down traffic. However, there is a little risk of damaging the vehicles that pass over it without slowing down.

Key Differences Between Speed Humps and Speed Bumps

Lower in height and placed at a longer driving distance

Placed at a longer driving distance.

Less aggressive

More aggressive

These are narrower.

These are wider.

Control traffic to around 10-15 mph

Control traffic to around 2-10 mph

It offers softer intrusion.

Traffic proceeds slowly in areas lined with speed bumps

Best for high traffic areas, areas with larger vehicles, and entrances from major highways

Intended for storefronts, school entrances, parking lots, garages, pedestrian crossings, and near stop signs


Wrapping Up

So, now you know the difference between speed humps and speed bumps. Both are traffic calming and speed-reducing measures with their unique set of similarities and differences. But the end goal of both is the same – safety of people.

So, make sure you respect and follow the purpose of both these measures and be safe. These are useful additions for road safety and make your surroundings safe for you and your loved ones.

Read: Benefits of Speed Bumps: Are They Effective

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