The Effect of Pavement Temperature on Frictional Properties of Pavement Surfaces at the Virginia Smart Road

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Virginia Tech


Wet-pavement friction is a public concern because of its direct relation to highway safety. Both short- and long-term seasonal variations have been observed in friction measurements. These variations have been attributed to different factors, such as traffic, rainfall, and temperature. Since both the tire rubber and the HMA pavement surface are viscoelastic materials, which are physically sensitive to temperature changes, temperature should affect the measured frictional properties. Although several researchers have attempted to explain and quantify the effect of temperature on pavement friction, it remains to be fully understood.

The objective of this research was to quantify the effect of pavement surface temperature on the frictional properties of the pavement-tire interface. To accomplish this, tests conducted on seven different wearing surfaces at the Virginia Smart Road under different climatic conditions were analyzed. Due to the short duration of this study and the low traffic at the facility, only short-term effects of temperature on pavement friction were investigated.

To accomplish the predefined objective, skid test data from both ribbed and smooth tires were collected over two and a half years (from January 2000 to August 2002) and then analyzed. Six sets of tests were conducted under different environmental conditions. The pavement and air temperatures during each test were obtained using thermocouples located directly under the wearing course (38mm below the surface) and close to the pavement surface, respectively. Regression analyses were conducted to determine the effect of pavement temperature on the measured skid number at different speeds, as well as on friction model parameters.

The main conclusion of this investigation is that pavement temperature has a significant effect on pavement frictional measurements and on the sensitivity of the measurements to the test speed. Both the skid number at zero speed (SN0) and the percent normalized gradient (PNG) tend to decrease with increased pavement temperature. This results in the pavement temperature on the measured skid number being dependent on the testing speed. For the standard wearing surface mixes studied at low speed (lower than 32 km/hr), pavement friction tends to decrease with increased pavement temperature. At high speed, the effect is reverted and pavement friction tends to increase with increased pavement temperature. Temperature-dependent friction versus speed models were established for one of the mixes studied. These models can be used to define temperature correction factors.



Pavement Temperature, Skid Number, Pavement Surface Characteristics, Pavement Friction