Automated Distress Measurement for Pavement Management

Project Details









Andy Vandel, John DeBoer


South Dakota Department of Transportation


Automation, Data collection, Evaluation, Pavement distress, Pavement management systems, Plan implementation

Project description

The SDDOT currently collects pavement distress data through automated and manual processes. In the automated process, a data collection vehicle driving at highway speeds measures pavement roughness and rutting and acquires intensity and elevation images of the pavement surface over the entire state highway network. Analysis software uses a set of rules to interpret the images to identify and quantify some types of cracking. Automated data is primarily used for reporting to the Federal Highway Administration’s Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS). In the manual process, two teams of transportation interns driving 15 mph on the roadway shoulder visually rate the severity and extent of pavement distresses compared to records from the prior year. A technician may also examine pavement images on a computer to rate pavement distresses. The Pavement Management System (PMS) uses this data to identify pavement surface needs and prioritize improvement projects. Concerns with manual collection include the safety of the interns exposed to traffic, the level of effort required, and the subjectivity of the rating process. As data collection technology has improved, using automated distress data for both federal reporting and pavement management has become more feasible. Research is needed to determine whether automated data collection can provide all of the distress data needed by the PMS and to identify changes needed to the PMS and SDDOT’s data collection and processing methods. Objectives are as follows: (1) Describe SDDOT’s pavement distress data requirements for federal reporting, pavement management, and other pavement engineering purposes. (2) Evaluate the capability of SDDOT’s automated data collection equipment and process to acquire the needed pavement distress data. (3) Identify modifications needed to SDDOT’s data collection and pavement management processes to accommodate the use of automated distress data. (4) Evaluate the suitability of the modified data collection and pavement management processes using automated pavement distress data collected during 2022. (5) Develop an implementation plan for using fully automated collected distress data for pavement management beginning in 2023.