High friction surface treatment for high crash locations: site selection process

Omar Smadi
Georges Bou-Saab
Zach Hans

Majority of fatal and major injury (severe) crashes occur on horizontal curves. A new and innovative safety improvement method, high friction surface treatment (HFST) was suggested by the federal highway administration (FHWA) in their extended study to examine the pavement safety performance. The Iowa department of transportation (DOT) initially installed this treatment on four sites as part of their safety improvement project in 2012. However, this was not part of a comprehensive policy to use HFST on problem crash curves. Recently, the Iowa DOT had an initiative to implement the HFST throughout the state as a crash mitigation strategy on state and county horizontal curves as part of their safety plan. Regardless of the limited research pertaining to this subject area and unavailability of any formal standards for HFST application, the findings from previous studies showed positive impact on crash rate and friction levels. The primary objective involved developing site selection criteria and identifying candidate sites. Then these candidate sites were refined in a two-phase process taking into account various factors such as traffic volume, geometric features, crash data and pavement condition. Consequently, the initial list of 6,287 state and county two-lane horizontal curves was reduced to 48 candidate sites. The next steps include prioritizing the final list and selecting at least 20 locations for applying the treatment and performing before and after crash study.

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