Federal Highway Research Institute


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Road monitoring and assessment (ZEB)

Roads must afford safe driving, withstand the exerted loads, provide a certain level of driving comfort, minimize rolling noise and be as durable as possible. Roads are inspected regularly by experts from the highway maintenance departments to permit early detection of damage and deficiencies and ensure compliance with traffic safety standards.

Road maintenance costs money and must be performed with foresight. For this purpose, it is necessary to collect large amounts of data. Visual inspection alone is not sufficient here. Technical measurement and recording techniques today permit objective analyses of road surface conditions. The measurement vehicles are operated in regular traffic without disrupting its flow.

The picture shows the MESOB measurement vehicle MESOB measurement vehicle (substance characteristics - surface)

The Federal Highway Research Institute participates in developing, optimizing and approving such measurement systems, also on an international level. These systems are used to record road surface condition parameters throughout the network of highways and main roads.

For instance, transverse and longitudinal evenness are measured with vehicles employing laser technology. Traction is measured with a transversely mounted wheel. Surface texture is scanned by cameras and recorded digitally.

The measured data are used to calculate condition variables. Grades ranging from 1 (very good) to 5 (very poor) are used to characterize an investigated road's condition. The ratings are made up of utility and consistency components (surface) in accordance with a defined weighting scheme. The utility component indicates the level of safety and comfort for road users. The consistency component (surface) mainly indicates road maintenance results. Both components together form the overall rating.

Individually determined condition parameters and associated values are displayed on special maps, for instance. This provides an overview of road network conditions and serves as a basis for planning road maintenance measures.

Detailed data and information on all interstate roads are acquired during regular condition checks (ZEB). The obtained results and findings are channelled to the Federal Highway Information System (BISStra) where they serve, in particular, as a basis for decision-making.

The growing number of ZEB data users also increases the cost for the provision of the ZEB findings to the federal and state governments. In order to meet the requirement of a uniform, modern type of analysis and visualisation of the findings, the so-called "IT ZEB Server" was developed in 2008 as a comprehensive and modern online information system.

Further Information