As the number of people killed on our roads continues to rise, the government and local councils are constantly looking for ways to improve road safety. One method they’re embracing is High Friction Surfacing (HFST). This is a non-slip surface that can be applied to sections of road to increase friction and reduce the risk of vehicle crashes.
Unlike reconstruction, which can be a costly and lengthy process that disrupts traffic flow for months, HFST can be installed in just hours and is a more cost-effective solution. It can be used on known black spots and pedestrian crossings as well as road stretches that have a history of high accidents.
The patented technology behind HFST works by creating thousands of tiny contact points between the tyres of vehicles and the road surface, helping to grip the hardscape and slow them down. This increased traction allows vehicles to brake safely and keep them on the road, especially in wet conditions and around vulnerable locations such as bridge decks and overpasses where ice can form quickly.
According to a report by the ATSSA, when HFST is properly installed and maintained, it can cut crash rates by as much as 78%. The surface is durable and designed to withstand the day-to-day forces on roadways, such as heavy traffic and freeze/thaw cycles. The textured aggregate in the surfacing also traps salt, which cuts down on the amount of deicing required.
While a resurfacing project can require an initial investment, the long-term savings of reducing collisions and their associated costs will more than make up for it. The HFST surface can last up to 10 years, which saves motorists and the transport industry significantly over that timeframe. The surfacing is also recyclable, allowing the aggregate to be reused in future projects rather than having to haul it away.
Unlike other surfacing materials, which can easily break down and become contaminated by oil, grease and other substances, the patented non-slip aggregate in HFST is impervious to these. It also resists the penetration of water into the sub-base, preventing surface damage and cracking. The high levels of friction created by the surfacing can even help to reduce the need for snow and ice control, which further helps the environment.
A coloured surface can be used to mark pedestrian crossings, junctions and other hazards for safer navigation by the public. Alternatively, the material can be installed in plain grey to improve visibility.
In addition to boosting traction and braking resistance, HFST has also been shown to be highly effective at preventing slippage from roadway departures. This is due to its ability to provide sufficient friction even when the roadway has deteriorated from age, environmental factors or the design of the road surface itself.
The latest update to RSTA ADEPT guidance has confirmed that HFST sites continue to demonstrate superior surface friction values and are more likely to remain in good condition than neighbouring untreated sites. The new guidance establishes a nationally agreed baseline for service life, which is essential for planning and asset management purposes.