Asphalt Smoothness Facts

 Asphalt Smoothness Facts


Smoother pavements extend pavement life by as much as 10% to 25%, resulting in lower costs for maintaining the roads. As a rule, asphalt pavements are smoother than concrete pavements. Smoothness measurements on interstate highways in Oregon and Washington showed that asphalt pavements are on average 33 percent smoother in Oregon and over 50 percent smoother in Washington.


A smooth pavement maximizes tire contact, providing more traction. 


Open-graded asphalt allows rainwater to drain through the pavement surface, reducing the amount of splash and spray kicked up by vehicles. Read more about Open-Graded Asphalt “Open-graded Asphalt Surfaces Offer… (PDF)” by Ed Schlect, Asphalt Institute District Engineer


The smoother the pavement, the lower a vehicle’s fuel consumption. A study by the Federal Highway Administration found that smoother pavements can reduce fuel consumption by trucks by up to 4.5 percent.


Rough roads wear out tires, shocks, and other mechanical parts faster. Smooth roads save wear and tear – and $$$. According to The Road Information Program, “The average urban motorist in the U.S. is paying $402 annually in additional vehicle operating costs as a result of driving on roads in need of repair. Driving on roads in disrepair increases consumer costs by accelerating vehicle deterioration and depreciation, increasing the frequency of needed maintenance and requiring additional fuel consumption.”


Want to save 10% on fuel costs? A study in Sweden concluded that vehicles traveling on the smoothest roads in that country’s network consumed up to 10 percent less fuel than vehicles on their roughest roads. It’s simple: smooth roads save fuel.


Did you ever notice that the majority of automobile commercials are shot on asphalt?


Asphalt has a proven track record when it comes to long life and smoothness. A study of asphalt and concrete pavements on interstate highways in Oregon and Washington State showed that the asphalt sections were smoother than the concrete sections. This was true even when comparing older asphalt pavements to newer concrete ones.  Read full report.


Routine maintenance is simply a matter of periodically milling (about every 15 to 20 years) the surface for recycling, followed by placement of a smooth new overlay. 


If motorists love asphalt for its smooth ride, how much more ecstatic can a bicyclist be on a superb stretch of asphalt? Read all the way to the end of this piece in Bicycling magazine to find out.


Asphalt pavements provide a smooth, quiet, skid-resistant ride surface. In the world today, noise has become one of the most pervasive forms of environmental pollution. Noise is everywhere. Read more about Quiet Pavements


When traveling on smooth pavements, truck tires don’t bounce. Truck tires rolling along on smooth asphalt pavement don’t deliver the kind of impact loading they would on a rougher pavement. Some experts estimate that a 25% increase in smoothness yields a 9% to 10% increase in the life of a pavement. So, not only are smooth pavements more comfortable, they also are more economical.


Asphalt provides a smooth ribbon of pavement without joints. No ka-thunk, ka-thunk, ka-thunk. You can turn the radio down.


Resurfacing an asphalt pavement creates a road that’s smooth, durable, safe, and quiet – and just as good as new.


Research in the U.S. and Europe shows that quiet asphalt reduces highway noise by 3 to 5 dB(A) and more. You can also visit these pages on Quiet Pavement to see how noise measures up.


Smooth asphalt roads give vehicle tires superior contact with the road. One type of asphalt surface, known as open-graded friction course, allows rainwater to drain through the surface layer and off to the sides. This reduces the amount of splash and spray kicked up by vehicles. These surfaces have been shown to greatly reduce crashes and fatalities. Read more about livable communities.

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