Damage detection of highway bridges is a significant part of structural heath monitoring. Conventional accelerometers or strain gauges utilized for damage detection have many shortcomings, especially their monitoring gauge length being too short, which would result in poor damage detection results. Under this circumstance, long-gauge FBG sensors as a novel optical sensor were developed to measure the macro-strain response of the structure. Based on this sensor, many derived damage detection methods were proposed. These methods exhibit various characteristics and have not been systematically compared. As a result, it is difficult to evaluate the state of the art and also leads to confusion for users to select. Therefore, a strict comparative study on three representative methods using long-gauge FBG was carried out. First, these methods’ theoretical backgrounds and formats were reformulated and unified for better comparison. Then, based on validated vehicle–bridge coupling simulation, these methods’ performances were tested through a series of parametric studies including various damage scenarios, vehicle types, speeds, road roughness and noise levels. The precision and reliability of three methods have been thoroughly studied and compared.
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