My friend Jenni asked me about the dots painted on Highway 55 outside of Buffalo, MN. They were painted as part of a pilot program in 2006 in an effort to reduce tailgating. The 2.5 feet x 7.5 feet ovals were painted 225 feet apart on Highway 55 between Rockford and Buffalo in Minnesota. Signs along the corridor encourage motorists to leave 2 dots between them and the vehicle in front of them. Jenni said she definitely left more distance between her and the next car while she was in the zone with the dots, but she want back to her normal driving pattern outside of the zone.
MnDOT’s report on the program states the average following distance increased by 17.9 feet when the dots were present vs. before the dots were painted. The report doesn’t give any before/after crash statistic comparisons, but the program was justified on the basis that it may help reduce rear end crashes (26.36% of all crashes in MN between 2002 and 2006 were rear end crashes). To my knowledge, no other roads in Minnesota have the dots.
Two closing shots –
1. Pennsylvania tested a similar program on one of their rural highways. I vaguely remember reading an article that attributed a traffic jam in bad weather to the dots. Motorists stayed 200+ feet apart even though they were traveling much below the posted speed limit. Any links on the article would be appreciated.
2. Although the engineers with the project didn’t appreciate this artistic impression, I am a Pacman fan…