Speed Bumps vs. Speed Humps: Which Is Right for Me?

Speed Bumps vs. Speed Humps: Which Is Right for Me?

When it comes to traffic safety, choosing the right traffic calming measure can significantly impact the effectiveness of your efforts. Speed bumps and speed humps are two popular options, but each serves a unique purpose and offers different benefits. This article will help you understand the differences between speed bumps and speed humps, enabling you to make an informed decision about which is right for your specific needs.

Introduction: The Importance of Traffic Calming Measures

Traffic calming measures are essential for maintaining safe and orderly roadways, especially in areas with high pedestrian activity. Speed bumps and speed humps are commonly used to control vehicle speeds and enhance traffic safety. But which one should you choose? Let’s explore the characteristics and benefits of each.

Understanding Speed Bumps

What Are Speed Bumps?

Speed bumps are raised sections of pavement typically 3 to 6 inches high and 1 to 3 feet long. They are designed to slow vehicles down significantly by creating a jolt that forces drivers to reduce their speed.

Benefits of Speed Bumps

  1. Enhanced Safety: Speed bumps are highly effective in reducing vehicle speeds, which can significantly lower the risk of accidents in high-pedestrian areas.
  2. Effective Speed Reduction: By creating a substantial jolt, speed bumps ensure that drivers slow down, making them ideal for areas where very low speeds are necessary.
  3. Cost-Effective: Speed bumps are relatively inexpensive to install and maintain, making them a cost-effective solution for traffic calming.

Where to Use Speed Bumps

Speed bumps are best suited for areas where low vehicle speeds are critical for safety, such as:
  • School zones
  • Parking lots
  • Residential neighborhoods
  • Private roads

Understanding Speed Humps

What Are Speed Humps?

Speed humps are similar to speed bumps but are designed to be less abrupt. They are typically 10 to 14 feet long and create a gentler rise and fall, reducing vehicle speed gradually.

Benefits of Speed Humps

  1. Smooth Traffic Flow: Speed humps provide a smoother driving experience compared to speed bumps, reducing the risk of vehicle damage and discomfort for drivers.
  2. Moderate Speed Reduction: While they still slow vehicles down, speed humps allow for slightly higher speeds than speed bumps, making them suitable for roads where some traffic flow is necessary.
  3. Versatility: Speed humps can be used on a variety of road types, including residential streets and minor collector roads.

Where to Use Speed Humps

Speed humps are ideal for areas where moderate speed reduction is desired without causing significant disruption to traffic flow, such as:
  • Residential streets
  • Suburban roads
  • Areas with moderate pedestrian activity
  • Roads near parks and playgrounds

Key Differences Between Speed Bumps and Speed Humps

Design and Structure

  • Speed Bumps: Short and abrupt, creating a significant jolt.
  • Speed Humps: Longer and gentler, providing a smoother rise and fall.

Speed Reduction

  • Speed Bumps: Drastically reduce vehicle speed to 5-10 mph.
  • Speed Humps: Reduce vehicle speed to 15-20 mph.

Traffic Flow Impact

  • Speed Bumps: More disruptive to traffic flow, ideal for areas requiring very low speeds.
  • Speed Humps: Less disruptive, allowing for smoother traffic flow.

Making the Right Choice

When deciding between speed bumps and speed humps, consider the following factors:

Purpose and Location

  • High-Pedestrian Areas: Speed bumps are more effective in areas with high pedestrian activity where very low speeds are essential.
  • Residential Streets: Speed humps are better suited for residential streets where moderate speed reduction is sufficient.

Desired Speed Reduction

  • Significant Speed Reduction: Choose speed bumps if you need to drastically slow down traffic.
  • Moderate Speed Reduction: Opt for speed humps if you require a more gradual speed reduction.

Traffic Flow Considerations

  • High Traffic Flow: Speed humps are preferable in areas where maintaining traffic flow is important.
  • Low Traffic Flow: Speed bumps can be used in areas with lower traffic volumes where significant speed reduction is needed.


Choosing the right traffic calming measure depends on your specific needs and the characteristics of the area in question. Speed bumps and speed humps each offer unique benefits and are suited to different environments. By understanding the differences and considering factors such as location, desired speed reduction, and traffic flow, you can make an informed decision that enhances traffic safety and meets your objectives.