High Friction Surface Treatment

High Friction Surface Treatment


Crashes on the nation’s roadways continue to be one of the leading causes of fatalities and major injuries in the United States, particularly in rural areas. Roughly half of all fatal crashes occur at intersections or on horizontal curves. In horizontal curve crashes, it is often the case that the vehicle speed and curve geometry create a “friction demand” higher than what can be achieved with standard pavement surfaces. Intersection crashes often occur when driver error creates an unexpected need for increased friction demand to serve as a “speed countermeasure.”



One low cost approach that has been shown to be effective in addressing high “friction demand” locations is the installation of a High Friction Surface Treatment (HFST). High Friction Surface Treatments are pavement surface treatments that are composed of extremely hard, polish- and abrasion-resistant aggregates bonded to the pavement surface that greatly enhance the skid resistance and frictional characteristics of a road surface. HFSTs address three speed-related crash conditions: low friction, marginal friction (further reduced by weather), and friction values not compatible with approach speeds and geometrics.



ATSSA's High Friction Surface Treatment Council (member login required) works to assist policymakers so they can better understand the impact of friction demand on roadway safety and the role that high friction surfacing can play to improve safety at high-risk locations. Council members also aim to provide the latest information related to high friction surface treatments that will be the most helpful in the ongoing effort to create a safer driving environment for all motorists.


CASE STUDY: Northern California US 199-Del Norte County

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Over the last decade, a horizontal curve within the parks’ limits experienced a high frequency of wet crashes. This curve is located on US 199, a two-lane, rural highway in Del Norte County, approximately one mile east of the South Fork Road intersection. 

CASE STUDY: Bellevue, Washington Downgrade Intersection Approach

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The Forest Drive westbound approach, at its intersection with Cole Creek Parkway, regularly had vehicles sliding down the hill during icy weather. In 2011, the average daily traffic at the approach was 4,941 vehicles. In an effort to combat the problem, a High Friction Surface treatment was applied on this approach in 2004.