Basics of Noise Generation for Pavement Engineers

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, infrastructure - vehicle, mode - rail


Wheel rail interaction, Traffic noise, Tire pavement interface, Rolling contact, Pavement design, Noise measurement, Noise control, Noise abatement, Motor vehicle noise, Highway noise


This paper is intended as a brief basic primer on tire–pavement noise generation and measurement. It is particularly directed toward pavement and materials engineers who are aware that noise is an issue of concern to the public but have not been able to invest the time needed to investigate and learn about noise control fundamentals. This paper defines sound and noise, illustrates the public’s growing awareness of noise issues, explains the units of measurement and measurement techniques, outlines some of the mechanisms of noise generation at the tire–pavement interface, and briefly discusses how pavements can help to mitigate noise problems. Significant progress has been made to reduce tire–pavement noise, and, with more applications and an increased understanding of noise generation and propagation, economical pavements are possible that control noise while maintaining safety and durability.