Pavement Friction Management, a Proven Countermeasure for Reducing Crashes and Saving Lives

Gerardo Flintsch

Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, USA


Dr Gerardo W. Flintsch, P.E. is the Dan Pletta Professor of Engineering with The Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Director of the Center for Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute at Virginia Tech. He chairs the TRB standing committee AKP10 on Pavement Condition Evaluation and the World Road Association (PIARC) technical committee 3.3 on Asset Management and serves as Vice-president and technical Director of FM Consultants, LLC.


Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death around the world and their prevention is the foundation of the Vision Zero strategy. One of the cornerstones of this approach is providing a safer roadway system. The presentation will discuss how a proactive, systemic, and data-driven approach for managing pavement friction can be both, a very effective safety countermeasure and a valuable asset management process. It will investigate the relationship between crashes and pavement frictional properties (friction and macrotexture) on different types of roadways and the development of Safety Performance Functions (SPFs) that incorporate pavement surface properties, and Crash Modification Functions for friction and macrotexture improvements. It will introduce the benefit-cost analysis methodology adopted in the new edition of the AASTHO Guide for Pavement Friction for prioritizing pavement friction improvement interventions, illustrate its applicability with a series of case studies, an provide recommendations on how to incorporate this business process into an agency’s Asset Management processes. The case studies show that an aggressive program to proactively correct areas were the friction demand exceed the level that the pavement can offer, could help eliminate 10-30 percent of roadway crashes and associated fatalities on some types of roadways.