High friction surfacing benefits
Developed in the United States in the 1950s, high friction surfacing is a hero road surface that in the subsequent years must have saved literally thousands of lives. Providing a virtually skid-proof surface, this top dressing of calcined bauxite can be applied by hot or cold methods onto prepared road surfaces—and the resulting benefits to road users have been immeasurable.
High friction surfacing – how, where and when?
High friction surfacing provides excellent skid resistance due to the calcined bauxite component in its make-up. This manufactured aggregate exhibits an exceptional resistance to abrasion and polishing. Under the microscope, its highly textured surface leads to reduced contact points with tyres. This in turn creates high contact pressure and better hydraulic conductivity—reducing the likelihood of skidding.
High friction surfacing is suitable for use on all classification of roads, from motorways to A roads to country lanes—and the UK market for it currently stands at approximately two million square metres per annum. It is used most effectively at sites where there is a high accident risk from collisions with other vehicles and pedestrians. For example, it can be well employed on stretches of road leading up to junctions and pelican or zebra crossings. It is also suitable for use on cycle routes and pedestrian surfaces.
The benefits of high friction surfacing
- Anything that reduces accidents, injury and death on the roads has value, and as such high friction surfacing has proved its worth.
- Analysis carried out by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents shows that this surface reduced accidents by 57 percent across 34 implementations.
- Fatalities on the road not only devastate families but also exact a high cost on the emergency services and highways authorities—between £1.4m and £1.7m per death. So the ability of high friction surfacing to prevent fatalities has a substantial financial rate of return.
- Well-applied, it will provide between five and ten years of high-level skid resistance.
- It is regulated in the UK under the Highway Authority Product Approval Scheme and can be specified under the Specifications for Highway Works Clause 924.
- The application process takes little time, so disruption to road users is minimal.
- High friction surfacing is classified as suitable for use on the most heavily-trafficked roads.
The Road Surface Treatments Association has produced a code of practice for its use and application, which is reviewed annually to ensure it remains accurate and up to date. It covers best practice for its selection and application for use by procurers and installers.
The code covers the selection of suitable sites for high friction surfacing, how it should be applied, issues concerning the preparation of the surface and the ambient conditions during application, and considerations of health and safety, traffic management, and the planning and execution of schemes.
High friction surfacing has proved itself to be one of the most cost-effective measures for reducing accidents and collision-related fatalities. It makes a substantial contribution to UK road safety while at the same time offering considerable savings to the taxpayer.