The National Academies

NCHRP 03-50(2) [Completed]

Additional Investigations on Driver Information Overload

  Project Data
Funds: $220,204
Research Agency: Westat, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Neil Lerner
Effective Date: 10/13/1999
Completion Date: 11/15/2002

The research conducted under this project continued efforts to develop and validate a driver information overload model for freeways and to translate the model into a practical tool for traffic and safety professionals to use in analyzing driver information loadings.

Drivers are typically confronted with a multitude of traffic control devices displaying regulatory, warning, and guidance information. Closely spaced complex sign arrays make it difficult for drivers to navigate while still coping with traffic interactions, lane and speed maintenance, lane change maneuvers, and other aspects of driving. The result of this information overload may be missed information, routing errors, traffic conflicts, and unsafe driving actions such as abrupt maneuvers or inappropriately slow speeds. NCHRP Project 3-50, "Driver Information Overload," made substantial progress in understanding the problem and developing a general model that captures the primary aspects of the problem. Two research experiments conducted under Project 3-50 provided some empirical basis for certain aspects of the model. However, at the conclusion of the project, the model remained primarily conceptual rather than empirical. Quantitative data to refine and validate the model were lacking.

The study findings, including the software and user's manual (CRP-CD-36, available as a 217MB ISO image), are documented in
NCHRP Report 488. The model can be used to evaluate a given system of signs or to seek improvements using a "what if" approach.

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