Serviceability Concept Prior to the AASHO Road Test, there was no real consensus on the definition of pavement failure. In the eyes of an engineer, pavement failure occurred whenever cracking, rutting, or other surface distresses became visible. In contrast, the motoring public usually associated pavement failure with poor ride quality. Pavement engineers conducting the AASHO Road Tests of the late 1950s were faced with the task of accounting for these two failure definitions (engineer and public) in a single design procedure. The Pavement Serviceability-Performance Concept was developed by Carey and Irick  to address the definition of pavement failure. Carey and Irick considered extensive pavement performance histories and noted that pavements usually begin their service life in excellent condition and deteriorate as traffic loads are applied in conjunction with prevailing environmental conditions. This gives rise to a pavement performance curve, which charts typical pavement conditions over time. Pavement performance, at any point in time, is known as the present serviceability index, or PSI. Examples of pavement performance trends (or PSI trends).
The present serviceability index (PSI) of a pavement can be measured at any point in time. The PSI was originally based on the present serviceability rating (PSR) which was measured by a panel of raters who drove over the pavement section and rated the pavement performance on a scale of 0 to 5, with 5 being the smoothest ride and 0 being virtually impassible. Because having a panel of raters evaluate all pavements is not practical, the PSI was developed by correlating panel-rated PSRs with actual pavement measurements (roughness, cracking, etc.). Thus PSI values are based on a variety of pavement measurements and does not require a panel of raters.The accumulation of traffic loads causes the pavement to deteriorate, and, as expected, the serviceability rating (PSI) drops. At some point, a terminal serviceability index (TSI) is reached and the pavement is in need of rehabilitation or replacement.
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