Elbert Dysart Botts – King of the Raised Pavement Marker!

Dr. Elbert Dysart Botts (1893-1962) was a California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) employee. Sound exciting? I think it does.

You probably didn’t know, but Dr. Botts is kind of the man. So much of a man, in fact, that he invented something you probably see almost every day. Ever heard of a Botts’ dot? No, it’s not a candy. It’s way better – it’s a non-reflective pavement marker!

Now that I’ve got your attention, let me explain a little bit. Botts’ dots are those small raised bumps that help to designate lanes on highways. But this post isn’t about the dots, it’s about Botts. Born in Missouri, Botts was a chemistry professor before being recruited by Caltrans. That probably makes him one of the only people to ever have such a “distinction” (I use that term very loosely). But Botts made the best of it. He led the Caltrans laboratory division responsible for conducting research on the best shapes and materials for raised pavement markers. Thank god he didn’t choose rhombuses. Or dodecagons. Or nonagons, for that matter.


Although the initial goal of the division was to improve lane visibility, the group soon discovered that the dots were great for providing tactile feedback to drivers who veered slightly in their lanes.

Botts unfortunately died before his invention became widespread. He passed away in 1962, and his research wasn’t rediscovered until two years later, when Caltrans decided to further research raised pavement markers, and the rest is history.

Gotta love those raised pavement markers!

About Rob

Huge San Diego Padres fan, working as an economic consultant in Pasadena, CA. Contributor to the Funny Names Blog. funnynamesblog.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in Greatest hits. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Elbert Dysart Botts – King of the Raised Pavement Marker!

  1. OyiaBrown says:

    Reblogged this on OyiaBrown.

  2. ibeamarioh says:

    Reblogged this on ibeamarioh and commented:
    As a Civil Engineer, this article immediately “raised” my curiosity. Ha.

  3. I never thought it possible that a single human being could do something quite so awesome as invent the raised pavement marker, AND have such an incredible name. I mean, that really is too much. How can one human being be so amazing?

  4. Dave says:

    Great post! It’s always interesting when you shake things up and write about something non-baseball related. Also, props for working the names of obscure polygons into a post about non-reflective raised pavement markers.

    • Rob says:

      Thanks man! I had fun writing it. I love poorly-known inventors who made a great contribution to society. Those markers have probably saved a ton of lives. Speaking of poorly-known inventors, Philo Farnsworth, anyone?

  5. Pingback: Felix Baumgartner « The Blog of Funny Names

  6. My brother suggested I may like this web site. He
    was entirely right. This submit truly made my
    day. You can not consider just how so much time I had spent for this info!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s