Variability of gravel pavement roughness: an analysis of the impact on vehicle dynamic response and driving comfort

Gravel pavement has lower construction costs but poorer performance than asphalt surfaces on roads. It also emits dust and deforms under the impact of vehicle loads and ambient air factors; the resulting ripples and ruts constantly deepen, and therefore increase vehicle vibrations and fuel consumption, and reduce safe driving speed and comfort. In this study, existing pavement quality evaluation indexes are analysed, and a methodology for adapting them for roads with gravel pavement is proposed. We report the measured wave depth and length of gravel pavement profile using the straightedge method on a 160 m long road section at three stages of road utilization. The measured pavement elevation was processed according to ISO 8608, and the frequency response of a vehicle was investigated using simulations in MATLAB/Simulink. The international roughness index (IRI) analysis showed that a speed of 30-45 km/h instead of 80 km/h provided the objective results of the IRI calculation on the flexible pavement due to the decreasing velocity of a vehicle’s unsprung mass on a more deteriorated road pavement state. The influence of the corrugation phenomenon of gravel pavement was explored, identifying specific driving safety and comfort cases. Finally, an increase in the dynamic load coefficient (DLC) at a low speed of 30 km/h on the most deteriorated pavement and a high speed of 90 km/h on the middle-quality pavement demonstrated the demand for timely gravel pavement maintenance and the complicated prediction of a safe driving speed for drivers. The main relevant objectives of this study are the adaptation of a road roughness indicator to gravel pavement, including the evaluation of vehicle dynamic responses at different speeds and pavement deterioration states.


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