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Roadway Friction Modeling: Improving the Use of Friction Measurements in State DOTs

Project #: 4W8631
Start Date: 09/01/2020
End Date: 08/31/2021

States often use road friction measurement devices as guidance for snow removal activities. Since these devices are costly, they are typically situated at a select set of key locations. Sometimes states will use both stationary and mobile friction sensors coming from different manufacturers. In such cases, analogous readings from the different sensors will typically disagree leading to uncertainty as to how the measurements should be interpreted. As a result, a methodology is required to standardize friction measurements from multiple manufacturers to a common scale. Once the friction measurements are standardized, it would be helpful to use the friction measurement history in establishing a methodology for estimating road friction at highway locations that are outside normal friction coverage areas.

The first goal of this proposal is to determine the relationship between weather conditions and friction measurements as observed in the laboratory. The second is to standardize friction measurements coming from multiple friction sensors for identical weather conditions and pavement types. The third is to check whether the relationship between weather and friction found in the lab is analogous to the relationship between weather and friction found in practice on highways. The fourth and final goal is to model road friction using weather conditions to predict road friction at sites where measurements may not be available.

This is a joint research effort with National Center for Atmospheric Research, sponsored by the Aurora Pooled Fund Research Program/Iowa Department of Transportation.


The overarching objective is to conduct friction testing that will improve the understanding of the relationship between weather conditions and road friction.



  • Laura Fay
    Laura Fay


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