In-Vehicle Work Zone Messages

Principal Investigator(s):

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


Project summary:

Speeding and distraction are two significant issues that can increase the risk of a crash in a work zone. Work zones often present tight safety margins where workers and equipment are located near passing vehicle traffic. Reduced speeds and signing are intended to mitigate crash risks but are only effective if drivers adhere to the posted limits and resist distractions from driving. This project is working to design and evaluate vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) in-vehicle messages to catch drivers' attention, especially those who might be distracted by a non-driving task, and present pertinent information in a non-distracting manner. One bridging technology to provide V2I in advance of future original equipment manufacturer (OEM) capabilities could be a smartphone. The perceived annoyance of a message is a strong predictor of whether a user will disable a system, so proper message design must account for this factor as well. A survey of nearly 100 Minnesota drivers revealed positive attitudes toward the use of a work-zone messaging system (potentially presented through a smartphone) but expressed concern over its distraction potential, often requesting an audio-only system--which is contrary to human factors design principles. Additionally, only 5% of drivers reported using a mount for their phone while driving, instead placing it in their cup holder, on their lap, on a passenger seat, or similar. This confounds the applicability of such design principles when transferred onto a smartphone platform rather than the later-intended OEM display. This research will investigate drivers' responses and distraction to in-vehicle work-zone messages in a simulated work zone that will be presented in an audiovisual or auditory-only format and placed in a dash-mounted or passenger seat position. The results will guide recommendations for future in-vehicle messaging systems and future V2I systems.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2016020
  • Start date: 07/2015
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Transportation Safety and Traffic Flow

Reports or Products: