The National Academies

NCHRP 17-18(08) [Completed]

Comprehensive Human Factors Guidelines for Road Systems

  Project Data
Funds: $200,031
Research Agency: Westat, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Neil D. Lerner
Effective Date: 9/28/2001
Completion Date: 1/31/2005

Background: The effort to significantly reduce highway fatalities and injuries is a huge undertaking, especially in the United States and Europe, which each experience more than 40,000 fatalities each year. Effective and acceptable solutions to this problem require that consideration be given to the three key components of highway transportation: road, vehicle, and user. Often forgotten are the needs and constraints of the road user. While existing design standards recognize some basic road user design parameters, the standards do not provide sufficient explanation and background, given the broad set of population differences and their interaction with the roadway environment, to develop solutions to the many, varied types of design and operational problems. Most agencies rely on individual research reports and experience when design and operational issues arise concerning road users. Human factors guidelines are needed to provide engineering solutions to human-centered safety problems associated with the design and operation of roadways and to address aspects of roadway safety and ITS issues specifically from the road user perspective.

On January 6, 2001, a workshop was held under sponsorship of the TRB Joint Subcommittee for Development of International Human Factors Guidelines for Road Systems to (1) identify the principal guidelines users and their needs, (2) define the technical content of the guidelines, (3) recommend mechanisms for distribution of the guidelines, (4) recommend how technical materials can be initially prepared and integrated into the guidelines and how expanded and updated materials can be added at later dates, (5) recommend a regular process to check the usability of the guidelines, and (6) recommend a plan for the development and adoption of the guidelines. A group of 54 researchers and practitioners participated in the workshop and concluded that there was definitely a need for such a technology-transfer activity and that work should begin as soon as possible on the development of International Human Factors Guidelines (HFG) for Road Systems.

The purpose of the HFG is to provide the best factual information and insight on road users' characteristics, in a useful CD-ROM format, to facilitate safe roadway design and operational decisions. The HFG is envisioned to complement design guides such as the AASHTO Geometric Design Guide, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the proposed Highway Safety Manual, and other key resources that are largely void of illustrative human factor principles and concepts needed by highway designers and traffic engineers. The ultimate goal is to develop a comprehensive set of human factor safety guidelines to assist engineers and others to achieve safer and more useable design, operation, and maintenance of roadways.

Objective: The objectives of this project are to (1) develop a detailed plan for the work required to produce the first edition of the Human Factors Guidelines (HFG) for Road Systems and (2) develop the introduction and one other HFG chapter.

Tasks: The research includes the following tasks: (1) Critically review the conceptual framework described in the illustrated example used in the January 6, 2001, workshop and the recommendations resulting from that workshop and develop a detailed outline for the first edition of the HFG. Consider and recommend the interrelation and possible integration of the HFG with other design guides (i.e., The Green Book, Highway Safety Manual, and the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices). (2) Submit the results of Task 1, including the outline and recommendations, for review by the NCHRP project panel and by the TRB Joint Subcommittee on the HFG. (3) Revise the outline considering the Task 2 review comments and prepare a detailed work plan for developing the HFG in CD-ROM format. The work plan shall define the available knowledge upon which to base the HFG and the effort required to distill that knowledge into the HFG. It also shall estimate the staffing, time, and other resource requirements necessary to develop the HFG. The work plan shall also include a recommendation for candidate chapters, one of which will be developed in subsequent tasks. The work plan shall describe how the input from other agencies, especially those outside of the United States, will be coordinated and planned for integration into the HFG. (4) Submit the revised outline and work plan for review by the project panel and by the joint subcommittee and propose one chapter for development in subsequent tasks. Meet in Washington, D.C., with the NCHRP panel and members of the joint subcommittee approximately 1 month after its submittal. (5) Prepare detailed annotated outlines of the introduction to the HFG and the chapter approved by the NCHRP panel. Define both technical content and presentation methods, including enhancements made possible using CD-ROM technology. (6) Submit the results of Task 5 for review by the NCHRP panel and by the TRB Joint Subcommittee on the HFG. (7) Using the results of the review, develop the draft introduction and the approved chapter, including examples of interactive visualization tools. (8) Submit a final report documenting the entire research effort. The final report shall describe how the project was conducted and include the work plan, the introduction, and the draft chapter as appendixes.

Status: NCHRP Research Results Digest 296 summarizes the results of this project. The revised draft final report is available online as NCHRP Web-Only Document 70.

Product Availability: The Task 2 report (HFG outline) is available.

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