Any driver who accidentally drifts out of the lane and on to the edge of the shoulder may be familiar with rumble strips that make a very loud noise and startle drivers into alertness. The deep grooves can also be substituted for Bott’s Dots, which are raised markers to help indicate lane lines. Either way, the placement and size of the groove or dot can create a rhythmic notes in the vehicle.
Someone figured out how to make those grooves and dots turn into a melody for sleepy drivers. It’s called asphaltophone and the credit goes to two Danish artists, Steen Krarup Jensen and Jakob Freud-Mangus, who created in 1995. The concept is much the same as a needle travelling over a record. In this case, the record is the road and the needle is the tire.
Believe it or not, there are actually roads that utilize asphaltophone. There are four places in the entire world that have musical roads: Denmark, South Korea, Japan and the United States. Japan actually has three musical stretches of roads that play different melodies from each other, so there are technically six melodies to sample.
The Japanese roads were created by Shizuo Shinoda after he accidentally scraped the pavement while operating a bulldozer and ran over the grooves. Shinoda realized the same thing the Danish artists did and created the first Japanese musical road in 2007. The grooves are designed only to work when drivers are going the desired speed, which officials hoped would encourage people to obey speed limits.
In South Korea, the one stretch of “Singing Road” carries the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb. The project was completed in a span of just four days in hopes of keeping sleepy drivers more alert. In South Korea, 68 percent of car accidents are caused by people driving while distracted or inattentive.
The American road is located in Lancaster, California. It was originally finished in 2008 to the tune of the finale to the William Tell Overture. It was paved over in less than a month because residents complained of noise levels. It was redone in another location with funding from Honda, which is why it’s now called the Civic Musical Road. The road appears in Honda commercials, but the second attempt doesn’t carry the same melodic accuracy as the first regardless of the speed of the car passing over the grooves.
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