Meaning Behind the Word: Superelevation

Superelevation is a term used in civil engineering and transportation that refers to the banking or tilting of a road, track, or railway curve to facilitate the safe and efficient movement of vehicles.


Proper superelevation is crucial in designing roads and railways. It reduces the lateral forces acting on vehicles, preventing them from overturning when navigating curves.


In the context of road design, superelevation is calculated based on the radius of the curve, the design speed of the road, and the friction between the road surface and vehicle tires. It is typically expressed as a percentage.


Here are some superelevation examples:

  • Highway Curves: On high-speed highways, you'll notice that the road is slightly banked on curves, allowing for safer and more comfortable driving.
  • Railway Tracks: Railways also use superelevation to prevent derailments and ensure smooth train movement on curves.
  • Skating Rinks: Even skating rinks utilize superelevation by slightly tilting the surface to help skaters maintain balance on curves.


Superelevation is a critical concept in transportation engineering that contributes to safer and more efficient travel on curved roads and railways. Its careful calculation and application make a significant difference in preventing accidents and ensuring a smoother ride.