Decoding Road Safety Measures: Speed Humps vs Speed Bumps – Explained

Decoding Road Safety Measures: Speed Humps vs Speed Bumps – Explained


Road safety measures exist in various forms, designed to protect motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists alike. Specifically, speed control measures play a vital role in managing the speed of vehicles and reducing the risk of accidents. Among the most common speed control measures are speed humps and speed bumps. At first glance, these terms may seem synonymous, leading to understandable confusion. However, distinguishing between these two measures is important for effective speed management and road safety. Speed humps and speed bumps, despite being similar in name and in purpose, are actually quite different in design and function. Both are essentially traffic calming devices installed on roads with the primary purpose of slowing down vehicles. Yet, their physical characteristics and the degree to which they reduce speed differ significantly. A better understanding of these differences is crucial for anyone involved in traffic management, road construction, or urban planning. Notably, while both speed humps and speed bumps serve the essential function of reducing vehicle speed, they do so in distinct ways and are best suited to different types of roads and traffic conditions. Therefore, considering the specific characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages of each is key to determining which of these speed control measures is most effective in any given situation. Moreover, installing speed humps or speed bumps requires careful consideration and adherence to certain guidelines and regulations. Depending on the location and the specific road conditions, either a speed hump or a speed bump may be the most appropriate measure. Understanding the regulations surrounding the installation of these devices is essential to ensure their effectiveness and legality. This article aims to provide clear and comprehensive information on the nature, purpose, and differences between speed humps and speed bumps. Through this, we hope to clarify any confusion and aid in the decision-making process when it comes to choosing and implementing the most effective and suitable speed control measures. So, let’s dive into the world of speed humps and speed bumps and decode these essential elements of road safety.

Speed Humps

Speed humps are raised sections of pavement built across a road or street. They are typically made of asphalt or concrete and measure 3-6 feet in length with a height of 3-4 inches. Speed humps are generally wider than speed bumps, allowing for smoother traffic flow. The purpose of speed humps is to reduce vehicle speed and make drivers aware that they are in a residential, school, or other pedestrian-oriented area. They usually have a flat or slightly sloping middle section, which allows for a smoother ride. Speed humps are typically placed in a series of three or more and are spaced at intervals of about 30 feet. Speed humps are designed to reduce vehicle speed to 20 miles per hour or less. They are also beneficial in reducing the amount of noise that comes from vehicles passing through a residential area. As they are less jarring than speed bumps, speed humps are more appropriate for areas where there is frequent pedestrian activity, such as school zones and residential streets.

Speed Bumps

Speed bumps are another common road safety measure that is designed to slow down the speed of vehicles on the road. These bumps are considerably shorter than speed humps, measuring only 3 to 4 inches in height. Unlike speed humps that are designed to slow the speed of the vehicles on the entire stretch of the road, speed bumps are usually used to control the speed of the vehicles at sharp corners, crossroads, and certain entry and exit points. Speed bumps are usually made of asphalt, concrete, or metal, and they are installed perpendicular to the direction of the road. They can be painted in bright colors to increase their visibility. These bumps are known for their shock-absorbing quality, and they are designed to make the vehicles pass over them slowly.


When comparing speed humps and speed bumps, there are several factors to consider. Speed humps are usually larger and wider than speed bumps, which cause vehicles to slow down more gradually. They are installed with a specific distance apart to ensure that the vehicle slows down in a consistent way. Speed humps are mostly used in residential areas, while speed bumps are mostly used in commercial areas. On the other hand, speed bumps are less likely to damage a vehicle’s suspension system compared to speed humps. Speed humps provide better safety for pedestrians and cyclists as they force drivers to slow down more gradually rather than suddenly, while speed bumps are more suitable for areas with frequent car traffic. They are also easier to install and maintain compared to speed humps. When choosing between speed humps and speed bumps, it is important to consider the traffic volume and speed of the area, as well as the type of vehicles that will be using the road.


Installing speed humps and speed bumps requires careful consideration. Depending on the area, speed humps and speed bumps may need to meet certain criteria. For instance, local regulations may require speed humps to be a certain size or shape, and to be installed at a certain distance apart. Speed bumps, on the other hand, may need to meet different criteria. In terms of installation, speed humps require more time and effort to install as they are larger and must be installed properly to be effective. Speed bumps, on the other hand, are much easier to install as they are smaller and can be placed more freely. Therefore, they are a good choice for areas that need to be quickly modified.

Regulations and Laws

When it comes to setting up speed humps and speed bumps, there are regulations and laws set by federal and state governments. For example, under federal law, speed humps and speed bumps must be designed according to the National Standards for Traffic Control Devices and must be clearly marked with appropriate signage. In most states, the height of the speed hump and speed bump should be a maximum of 4 inches, and the length of the speed hump should be a minimum of 3 feet and a maximum of 12 feet. The length of the speed bump should be a minimum of 6 feet and a maximum of 12 feet. Additionally, speed humps and speed bumps must be placed a minimum of 10 feet apart. Violating the regulations can lead to penalties such as fines and/or the need to remove the speed hump or speed bump. It is important for motorists to be aware of the regulations and laws regarding speed humps and speed bumps, as these can help to keep the roads safe and avoid potential fines or other penalties.


Speed humps and speed bumps serve the same general purpose – to reduce road accidents by reducing vehicle speed. They have different characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages, so one should consider both options when deciding which safety measure to install. Federal and state regulations on speed humps and speed bumps need to be taken into account to avoid any penalties. In conclusion, speed humps and speed bumps may seem similar, but it is important to be aware of the differences between these two road safety measures. By taking into account the purpose, characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages of speed humps and speed bumps, one can make an informed decision on which measure is best to install on a road.