A Next Generation Non-Distracting In-Vehicle 511 Traveler Information Service


Nichole Morris, Alice Ton, Jennifer Cooper, Christopher Edwards, Max Donath

October 2014

Report no. CTS 14-13

This study investigates the current features of state and proprietary traveler information applications, elements of good design and usability, human factors issues regarding visual and cognitive distraction, and makes recommendations for the next generation of Minnesota's traveler information application, MN 511. Traveler information systems were created to serve drivers by providing accurate information about traffic and road conditions before drivers began their trip. The advancement of cellular telephones provided a new opportunity for drivers to access traffic and road information en-route, but introduced considerable cognitive distraction on drivers navigating the complex phone trees. The evolution of traveler information systems onto smartphone applications has eased the cognitive demand previously imposed by phone tree systems, but has shifted the demand to drivers' visual resources. The dichotomy between state-funded 511 travel information applications and proprietary traveler information applications is primarily determined by the features each contains. The common features included in the current proprietary traveler information applications provide insight into the opportunities for future iterations of MN 511 mobile applications. The MN 511 application can continue to improve by incorporating select features from proprietary applications, such as voice commands, route guidance, saved places, and travel time estimates, while taking into account cognitive workload and visual distraction. This is important because publicly funded traveler information applications have a greater responsibility, compared to proprietary applications, to account for distraction and ensure the safety of its users.

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