UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 9:55am
COLLEGE STATION -- If you've ever traveled down a winding country road you know just how dangerous they can be, usually narrow and unlit.
But a new study out of the Texas Transportation Institute in College Station could improve rural highways and drastically cut down on accidents.
It's nearly impossible to travel anywhere in the state of Texas without driving down a rural highway.
And while the route may be more scenic, the accident rates are shockingly high.
"These rural highways are crash problems," said Paul Carlson, a Texas Transportation Institute researcher. "Over 50 percent of our fatalities are on two-lane highways."
But Carlson says they've found a simple solution to make the roads safer.
The new TTI study shows that if you increase the white line on the side of rural highways by just two inches, fatality accidents could decrease by 38 percent.
"We know we can see them further. We know in the periphery they're a little bit more easily detectable so you have to look at the pavement markings less frequently."
The study also proves that a wider edge is just as effective as the rumble strips, making it a more cost efficient and quieter option.
"Until now there hasn't been hard, reliable numbers that they could go to and say here's how much benefit I get from wider edge lines."
Although the research part is done, Carlson says their work isn't over yet.
"Now we're trying to change national policy because right now the nominal width is four inches so we'd like the minimum width to be six inches on rural two-lane highways across the U.S."