Evaluation of the Smart Work Zone Speed Notification System

Principal Investigator(s):

John Hourdos, Former Research Associate Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project summary:

The Smart Work Zone Speed Notification (SWZSN) system aims to alleviate congestion, queuing, and rear-end crashes in work zones by informing drivers of the speed of the downstream segment using a type of portable Intelligent Lane Control System (ILCS): Portable Changeable Message Signs (PCMS). The hypothesis was that drivers, knowing the speed up to one mile downstream, will slow down early or at least be alert and perform smoother decelerations. Video of the SWZSN was analyzed over two years of operation by the Minnesota Traffic Observatory. Overall, the system resulted in beneficial reductions of selected decelerations by the drivers. In situations where the messages communicated to the drivers were consistent and accurate, reductions of more than 30% in the selected deceleration rates were observed. Unfortunately, there were several cases where counterproductive or misleading messages were communicated to the drivers, prompting relative increases to the selected deceleration rates. The most important observation--stemming from both positive and negative influences--was that the speed notification system was noticed by drivers and resulted in a statistically significant influence on driving behavior, unlike other driver alert systems.

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