Drivers' ability to absorb information from co-located signs along motorways


The paper presents initial findings from an Austroads funded project NT1782 Ability to Absorb Information through Electronic and Static Signs. The paper aims to investigate how easily messages displayed on co-located signs can be absorbed, and if drivers can absorb messages and take appropriate action without any adverse impact on the safety and efficiency of driving. Co-location of three types of signs under motorway conditions was investigated: direction signs (DS), variable message signs (VMS) and variable speed limits/lane control signs (VSL/LCS). The authors reviewed global wide practices and research evidence on different types of sign co-locations. It was found that dual co-location of VSL/LCS, VMS and/or DS is a practical arrangement which has been widely practised overseas and in Australia. Triple co-location of VSL/LCS, VMS and DS is also practised overseas but is still new to the Australian driving community. The NT1782 project also employed an advanced driving simulator (ADS) to further investigate the possible impacts of sign co-location on drivers’ responses in an emergency situation and there were no obviously adverse impacts have been identified from the ADS study. The authors consolidated all findings and concluded that although there is no clear evidence showing that triple co-location gives rise to riskier behaviour, this proposition should be viewed with caution. Further evaluation of triple co-location in a real-life setting is called for.

Transportation Research Board (TRB) 95th Annual Meeting, At Washington, D.C.