Pavement markings save lives and reduce congestion. This paper presents a benefit-cost analysis of edgelines, centerlines, and lane lines. The analysis considers markings applied with fast-drying paint or thermoplastic, the most frequently used marking materials in the United States. A literature review nad telephone survey suggested striping with fast-drying paint costs $.035 per linear foot in rural areas and $.07 per linear foot in urban areas. Thermoplastic lines cost more than painted ones, but can have lower life-cycle costs; in areas where snowplowing is unnecessary, they have longer lives. Published literature suggests that existing longitudinal pavement markings reduce crashes by 21%, and edgelines on rural two-lane highways reduce crashes by 8%. Applying these percentages to published aggregate crash costs by roadway type yields the safety benefits. The analysis assumes markings improve traffic flow during the 6 AM to 7 PM period on arterials, freeways, and interstate highways, increasing average speeds by 2 mph. On average, each $1 currently spent on pavement striping yields $60 in benefits. The benefit-cost ratio rises with traffic volume. The urban ratio is double the rural ratio. Sensitivity analysis shows the benefit-cost ratios are robust. Where striping reduces congestion, the travel time savings alone yield a positive benefit-cost ratio for striping. Most highways already have a full complement of lines. Rural two-lane highways, however, sometimes lack edgelines. Edgelines on these roads will yield benefits exceeding their costs if an average of one non-intersection crash occurs annually every 15.5 miles of roadway.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Urban Institute

    2100 M Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20037
  • Authors:
    • Miller, T R
  • Publication Date: 1991-12-20


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 16 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00625565
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 21 1993 12:00AM