If I asked you how long the dotted lines are on Route 9 in Poughkeepsie, Route 211 in Middletown or I-84 near Newburgh what would you say?

Because this is a written article I can't hear your answer, but I do know that it's most likely wrong. According to an article by the Association for Psychological Science, the average person estimates those street lines at about two feet long. That's not just wrong, it's way off from the actual length of the average dotted line.

Once you actually know the real length of those lines, your mind will be twisted in all sorts of knots trying to process it. As we drive down the road at 30 to 40 miles per hour our perception of those street lines is insanely different from what they actually are. The speed of the lines whizzing by combined with the angle you're viewing those lines from the driver's seat causes an optical illusion that fools your brain.

Here's a view of I-84 from behind the wheel of the Google Maps truck.

Google Maps

Those lines look like they're only a few feet long. But in reality, they're approximately 13  feet long. Don't believe me? Take a look at the exact same stretch of road from above.

Google Maps

The average car is about 15 feet long, so you can see that those dotted lines are way longer than they look from the road. Also, the spaces between the lines are incredibly long, with more than a car length between each line.

Painted line lengths do vary depending on speed limits, but are generally never less than 10 feet long. Some lines can actually be as long as 15 feet.  So the next time you happen to be parked on a major road, peer over and take a look at one of those painted lines up close. You'll be amazed at just how long they actually are.

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