The Netherlands has a new first. Besides appliances, homes and cars, there is now also a label for road surfaces. The first labelled road surface will be laid on the A348 in the province of Gelderland. How long will the road surface last? Is the road surface safe? How much rolling resistance does a car have to drive over it? The road surface gives insight into these and more factors. Ideal for road managers and politicians to make well-founded choices and to challenge contractors to innovate. There's a lot of interest abroad for this instrument developed in the Netherlands. The initiators, including Strukton Civiel, recently presented the concept at the Working Party on Noise of the United Nations in Geneva. There is a lot of interest in the concept.

The road surface label is similar to the white goods and tyres label, showing at a glance how a road surface scores. Roads must be safe, accessible, sustainable and economical. The road surface label ensures uniform communication and objective standards for all parties involved in the construction and maintenance of roads.

For the safety of a road, the aspect of skidding resistance is essential. Tyre-road surface noise is important for the quality of life of local residents. Rolling resistance is important for the environment (CO emissions) and for the economy (fuel consumption). Lifespan is important for the economy, the environment and local residents. Road surface labels categorise road surfaces for all these aspects: skidding resistance, noise, rolling resistance and lifespan. For each category, a road surface scores between A and G.

What are the results?
Experience has shown that insight leads to improvement. Just as the energy label for washing machines led to a huge improvement in sustainability of white goods, it is expected that the road surface label will improve the quality of the road surface. The label will encourage road builders and tyre manufacturers to make their products as sustainable, safe and quiet as possible. For that reason, it can be assumed that road surface labelling will lead to:

  • Fewer accidents. The risk of accidents with (too) low skidding resistance is around 2-5 times greater than with good skidding resistance.
  • Fewer noise screens. There are currently around 400 km of noise screens in the Netherlands with a value of around 400 million euros.
  • Fuel savings. Reducing rolling resistance by around 10% produces fuel savings of 1-2%.
  • CO₂ reduction. The above-mentioned fuel savings deliver a CO₂reduction of 1,000 kton on a yearly basis.
  • Better investment of tax revenue.

Pilot project
On the A348 at Arnhem, a road surface is being created with the label CDBB. This road surface is mainly optimised for a long lifespan of at least 15 years and a considerably lower rolling resistance than the current road surface. This road surface will be laid over the weekend of 14 and 15 April 2018.

The road surface label was developed by the Province of Gelderland, Strukton Civiel, Vereniging Band en Milieu (Tyre and Environment Association) and Twente University. In recent years, they have conducted a lot of research into the interaction between tyre and road surface. As a road manager, the province of Gelderland encourages the application of the label concept to make functional dialogue and communication with politicians and the local community more uniform. Strukton Civiel innovates with the development of more efficient road surfaces and advanced laboratory trials, while Vereniging Band en Milieu innovates with tyres. Twente University contributes through the development of standards and measurement methods and their validation.

European interest
Last year, the initiators recently presented the concept at the meeting of the Working Party on Noise organised by the United Nations in Geneva. Interest was shown from the EU with respect to three aspects, i.e. the environment, energy and traffic safety. The European car industry is also showing interest, as is Japan. A Guideline is being developed on how to implement road surface labelling. With such a voluntary recipe, customers, road builders and tyre manufacturers can speak the same language and the quality of road surfaces will become more transparent.

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