Quantitative Assessment of the Effect of Wide-Base Tires on Pavement Response by Finite Element Analysis

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Transportation Research Record

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DOI: 10.3141/2590-05


Various studies have shown that the new-generation wide-base tire (WBT) for trucks causes more damage to pavement than does the dual-tire assembly (DTA). However, there is no substantive approach that quantifies the difference in pavement responses produced by WBTs and the DTA. This study filled this gap by developing linear equations that connect pavement responses produced by these two tire types. Equations were developed for 10 different pavement responses through 480 finite element method simulations (240 for the DTA and 240 for WBTs) that were run in ABAQUS with the same material properties and pavement structures. The only difference was the contact stresses and contact areas that were measured under the same axle load for WBTs and the DTA. The cases modeled in simulations were selected to capture extreme conditions, that is, thick and thin pavement structures with strong and weak material properties. The equations will help pavement researchers to understand quantitatively the effect of WBTs on pavement responses as compared with the DTA. The low resultant prediction error, 10%, allows linear equations to be implemented through the application of adjustment factors on mechanistic pavement design guides such as the Mechanistic–Empirical Pavement Design Guide, which are unable to simulate WBT loading realistically. To predict pavement damage accurately, the pavement analysis should consider the WBT market penetration in the United States (approximately 10%) and the partial use of WBTs on truck axles. The impact of WBTs on pavement should be evaluated in the context of economic and environmental benefits.


Transportation Research Record, Vol. 2590, No. 1 (January 2016): 37-43. DOI.

Jaime A. Hernandez was affiliated with University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign at the time of publication.