Analytical Modeling of Effects of Rib Tires on Hydroplaning

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, planning - safety/accidents, mode - rail


Wheel rail interaction, Wet weather, Water depth, Treads, Tread depth, Traffic accidents, Tire treads, Tire pavement interface, Texture, Surface texture, Surface properties, Surface course (Pavements), Rolling contact, Road surfaces, Mathematical models, Hydroplaning, Hydrodynamics, Highway accidents, Finite element method, Finite element analysis, Blanket course


Hydroplaning is known to be a major cause of wet-weather road accidents. The risk of hydroplaning in wet-weather driving is a function of the depth of surface water, pavement texture properties, and tire characteristics. With the aim to improve and ensure wet-weather driving safety, extensive experimental studies have been conducted by researchers to understand how tire characteristics (in particular, tire tread depth), would affect vehicle hydroplaning risk. Rib tires have been commonly used for such experiments. Relationships derived experimentally by past researchers are available to estimate the effect of rib-tire tread depth on hydroplaning risk. However, such statistical relationships have limitations in their application range and transferability. They also do not provide detailed insights into the mechanism of hydroplaning. These limitations can be overcome through development of a theoretically derived analytical model. This paper presents an analytical simulation study that is based on the theory of hydrodynamics. The method of modeling using finite element techniques is described. Measured data from past experimental studies are used to validate the simulation model. The simulation model is applied to analyze the effect of tire tread depth on hydroplaning for different surface water depths. The effect of tire inflation pressure on the hydroplaning risk of rib tires is also examined. In addition, the effect of different rib tire designs in relation to the number of grooves is studied. This study demonstrates that the proposed model can be a useful analytical tool for evaluating the hydroplaning risk of wet-weather driving.