DARKE COUNTY — No doubt about it — yellow lines matter.
A newly released survey on no-passing zones on county roads is providing important information to help keep Darke County safe for commuters.
The study, conducted by ADN Safety Solutions, has provided the information to the Darke County Highway Department, which oversees maintenance of 521 miles of county roads. Included in the department’s duties is painting yellow center stripes, designating passing and no-passing zones.
Darke County Engineer Jim Surber said the last survey of this type was performed in 1996. The main difference between then and now is that the information is available to county road workers in a much more compact form.
And the difference is dramatic: The 1996 study is on printed-out pages contained in four large binders. The 2016 study? One computer disc.
The total cost for the survey was $41,680. The county’s cost was 10 percent, $4,168, with the remainder paid by a federal grant.
“We’re trying to make sure the no-passing zones painted on our roads are as accurate as can be determined, and this helps us,” said Surber.
Though there haven’t been major changes on Darke County roads in the past 20 years, there have been a few minor changes that may affect either the location or length of no-passing zones.
“There have been adjustments to the vertical alignment of some roads,” said Surber. “There have also been new bridges built, which can affect things.”
The survey places log points in thousandths of miles or in feet. It provides road workers with detailed overhead photos as well as written measurements and notes. The survey also helps calculate the gallons of paint needed for any particular road markings needed.
The importance of precisely marked no-passing zones is not only a matter of public safety, it also protects the county from potential legal entanglements.
“We’re liable,” said Surber, noting that a person could sue the county if it is believed a no-passing zone was incorrectly marked and thus resulted in a roadway accident.
“What’s really bad is if we were to have a no-passing zone marked as passing,” he added.
Though the new study takes up less physical space than the 20-year-old survey and gives the county the most updated information at its disposal, the four, thick binders in the office will remain in the department’s office if needed.
“We’re not going to throw the old ones away,” Surber said, laughing. “I have an inherent distrust of technology.”