Evaluating comprehension of temporary traffic control
Greenwood, Aaron T.
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There are over 5 million reported motor vehicle collisions annually in the United States, and while crash rates and fatality rates have declined in the past decades, rates in work zones are disproportionately high. There are strict standards for evaluating the crashworthiness of temporary traffic control devices, but not for evaluating drivers’ comprehension of existing or novel device deployments. This dissertation presents a series of three experiments evaluating driver comprehension for existing and novel traffic control devices conducted in a work zone setting. This evaluation is further expanded by decomposing the task of comprehending traffic control into the three subtasks of detection, localization, and identification. Methods are proposed for conducting a computer-based experiment with still image stimuli to measure participant performance at each of these subtasks. Next, procedures for categorizing localization responses and accounting for variation in participants physical responses are explored. Lastly, an application of Item Response Theory toward the evaluation and comparison of participant comprehension is demonstrated. It is hoped that these methods and procedures can be used by future researchers and experimenters to compare novel temporary traffic control devices and systems to inform future design.