Road lane striping plan, 1921

The editors of the June 5, 1921, Illinois State Journal endorsed a provocative new idea: Painting a line down the middle of roads — well, at least on the curves — to keep drivers on their own sides. Here is the editorial:

A Middle of the Road Line

What would be the psychological effect of a wide, black line drawn along the middle of the hard road from end to end?

Would it tend to keep drivers on their own side of the road? Would it prevent accidents? Could it be used in determining responsibility for an accident, due to one or both of the drivers being outside his zone?

Should the Department of Public Works provide for this line in all specifications for new roads?

Mr. Older, chief engineer of the (Illinois) Division of Highways, says that this season all curves on the Springfield-Peoria hard road will be striped in this way, but that the straight stretches will not be divided until later.

The middle of the road line, he concedes, is generally favored but it has not been required yet because it costs money. But in the opinion of The State Journal whatever it would cost would be insignificant if it saved one life or prevented serious property damage.

The good effects of the line, however, are believed to have been demonstrated and the cost will be trifling compared with them.

The State Journal sees no reason why the middle of the road line should not be laid as the pavement is finished.

Surely, a contractor bidding thirty or forty thousand dollars per mile would not be bewildered by the few dollars required to add this stripe.

The disposition of every driver is to get as near the crown of the road as possible. When the road is clear there is little opportunity for any one to straddle the road but he will edge as close to the middle as he can unless there is a constant reminder of his rightful limitations.

The six inch black, middle-of-the-road marker is such a continuous reminder.

It is said to be hard to drive astride it and that where it has been in use it effectively keeps machines on their side of the highway. schs logo (2)

Original content copyright Sangamon County Historical Society. You are free to republish this content as long as credit is given to the Society.

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