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The Road to Safer Streets: The Invention of the Rubber Speed Hump

Modern cities are bustling with traffic, and ensuring the safety of pedestrians and drivers alike is a top priority. Speed humps, an essential traffic calming measure, have been employed for decades to reduce vehicle speeds and create safer road environments. But did you know that the rubber speed hump, a highly effective and environmentally friendly solution, has an interesting history behind its invention? In this blog post, we'll take a journey back in time to uncover the origins of the rubber speed hump and its impact on modern road safety.

The Problem of Speeding:

In the mid-20th century, as urbanisation expanded, so did concerns about speeding vehicles. The conventional speed humps, usually made of asphalt or concrete, presented a few challenges. They were expensive to install, created excessive noise and vibration, and often caused discomfort to drivers and passengers. Innovators and engineers sought a better solution that would effectively reduce speeds while addressing these drawbacks.

The idea of using rubber as a material for speed humps emerged in the late 1970s. Rubber was known for its durability, resilience, and ability to absorb shocks, making it a promising candidate to revolutionise the concept of speed humps. Unlike traditional humps made of hard materials, rubber speed humps could provide a more comfortable and quieter driving experience for motorists, thereby encouraging widespread acceptance and implementation.

The Inventor:

An early form of speed bumps was implemented in Chatham, New Jersey in 1906. Workers raised crosswalks five inches to reduce drivers’ speed. However, modern speed bumps were introduced in the 1950s. After winning the Nobel Prize for discoveries in electromagnetic theory, Arthur Holly Compton noticed a problem that was unrelated to his field of expertise. Drivers frequently sped past Washington University, where he worked. In 1953, he designed the first speed bump, which he called a “traffic control bump.”


Advantages of Rubber Speed Humps:

1. Enhanced Road Safety: Rubber speed humps effectively slow down vehicles, reducing the risk of accidents and making neighborhoods safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

2. Noise Reduction: Unlike their concrete or metal counterparts, rubber speed humps create minimal noise and vibration, improving the overall driving experience.

3. Cost-Effective: The production and installation of rubber speed humps turned out to be more cost-effective compared to traditional speed humps.

4. Eco-Friendly: Rubber is a recyclable material, making rubber speed humps an eco-friendly alternative to conventional road safety measures.

Global Adoption and Impact:

The introduction of rubber speed humps revolutionised traffic calming measures across the globe. Many cities and municipalities embraced this innovation due to its numerous benefits. Rubber speed humps can now be found in residential areas, school zones, hospital premises, and various other locations where speed control is crucial for safety.


The invention of the rubber speed hump stands as a remarkable example of how innovation can transform mundane aspects of our daily lives. Thanks to his brilliant idea, we now have a safer, quieter, and more eco-friendly alternative to traditional speed humps. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect even more ingenious solutions that will shape the future of road safety, making our cities safer for everyone.

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