U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Friction is a critical characteristic of a pavement that affects how vehicles interact with the roadway, including the frequency of crashes. Measuring, monitoring, and maintaining pavement friction—especially at locations where vehicles are frequently turning, slowing, and stopping—can prevent many roadway departure, intersection, and pedestrian-related crashes.
Pavement friction treatments, such as High Friction Surface Treatment (HFST), can be better targeted and result in more efficient and effective installations when using continuous pavement friction data along with crash and roadway data.
Continuous Pavement Friction Measurement
Friction data for safety performance is best measured with Continuous Pavement Friction Measurement (CPFM) equipment. Spot friction measurement devices, like locked-wheel skid trailers, cannot safely and accurately collect friction data in curves or intersections, where the pavement polishes more quickly and adequate friction is so much more critical. Without CPFM equipment, agencies will assume the same friction over a mile or more.
CPFM technology measures friction continuously at highway speeds and provides both network and segment level data. Practitioners can analyze the friction, crash, and roadway data to better understand and predict where friction-related crashes will occur to better target locations and more effectively install treatments.1
High Friction Surface Treatment
HFST consists of a layer of durable, anti-abrasion, and polish-resistant aggregate over a thermosetting polymer resin binder that locks the aggregate in place to restore or enhance friction and skid resistance. Calcined bauxite is the aggregate shown to yield the best results and should be used with HFST applications.
HFST should be applied in locations with increased friction demand, including:
- Horizontal curves.
- Interchange ramps.
- Intersection approaches.
- Higher-speed signalized and stop-controlled intersections.
- Steep downward grades.
- Locations with a history of rear-end, failure to yield, wet-weather, or red-light-running crashes.
- Crosswalk approaches.
- HFST is applied on existing pavement, so no new pavement is added.
- If the underlying pavement structure is unstable, then the HFST life cycle may be shortened, resulting in pre-mature failure.
- The automated installation method is preferred as it minimizes issues often associated with manual installation: human error due to fatigue, inadequate binder mixing, improper and uneven binder thickness, delayed aggregate placement, and inadequate aggregate coverage.
- The cost can be reduced when bundling installations at multiple locations.
1. Izeppi et al. Continuous Friction Measurement Equipment as a Tool for Improving Crash Rate Prediction: A Pilot Study. Virginia Department of Transportation, (2016).
2. Merritt et al. Development of Crash Modification Factors for High Friction Surface Treatments. FHWA, (2020).
3. NCHRP Report 617: Accident Modification Factors for Traffic Engineering and ITS Improvements, (2008).