Examining the Impact of ASE in Work Zones on Driver Attention

Principal Investigator(s):

Nichole Morris, Director, Human Factors Safety Lab, Mechanical Engineering


Project summary:

Each year, more than 500 fatal crashes occur in work zones in the United States, with more than 100 road construction workers killed on work sites. Speed and distraction are among the top contributing factors to work zone crashes. The purpose of this project was to investigate the impact of different types of speed enforcement methods on driver attention in work zones. The investigation not only examined enforcement methods currently used in Minnesota, but also examined how implementing automated speed enforcement (ASE), which is not currently used in Minnesota, may influence driver attention and behavior in simulated work zones.

Overall, the results of this research do not appear to support the hypothesis that ASE without use of dynamic speed display signs (DSDS) improves driver attention in work zones. There is some evidence, however, that drivers did heighten their visual attention in work zones with ASE+DSDS enforcement. Drivers fixated on the secondary task display less frequently in the ASE+DSDS condition compared to other enforcement types while they traveled in the downstream portion of the work zone. The greatest effects were found among the age groups, with younger and older drivers exceeding the speed limit most often and varying their speed slightly depending on the type of enforcement present. Middle-aged drivers exhibited the greatest speed control and tended to abide by the speed limit to the same extent regardless of the type of enforcement present.

Project details: