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Center for Transportation Studies
Janet Creaser

Janet Creaser

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Intersection Decision Support

Technologies and Human Factors Related to the Intersection Decision Support Project

Presentation by Janet Creaser, research scientist, HumanFIRST Laboratory

October 25, 2005

Understanding driver behavior and cognition is crucial to developing effective safety systems for rural intersections. Janet Creaser, a research fellow in the mechanical engineering department, gave an overview of the many human factors issues involved in developing the ITS Institute's Intersection Decision Support (IDS) system at an October 25 Advanced Transportation Technologies Seminar. Creaser's work in the HumanFIRST Program focuses on human factors in IDS.

Many serious crashes at unsignalized rural intersections are attributable to errors made by drivers entering the main highway. The Intersection Decision Support (IDS) system under development by the ITS Institute is a new way of improving the safety of rural through-stop highway intersections; instead of relying on traffic signals, the IDS concept uses advanced sensing and networking technology to provide drivers on a secondary road with better information about vehicles approaching the intersection on the main highway.

In order to analyze the potential sources of driver error at rural through-stop intersections, Creaser said, researchers carried out a detailed task analysis that identified a number of discrete actions performed when entering the intersection. IDS researchers also identified demographic groups of drivers at highest risk for these types of driver error, and decided to focus special attention on the needs of drivers over the age of 65. Elderly drivers, Creaser said, often have longer reaction times and slower movement speeds than their younger counterparts, and some experience problems with shorter attention spans and impatience.

The analysis of driver tasks and errors served as a foundation for the IDS research team's work on developing effective electronic signage to communicate information to drivers. Creaser outlined three possible levels of information that could be communicated by an electronic sign: informing stopped drivers that vehicles are approaching; warning stopped drivers that a gap in approaching traffic is deemed unsafe; or advising stopped drivers about the size of a gap. Evaluation of signage based on these concepts has been carried out in the HumanFIRST Program's VESTR driving simulator.

For the human-factors researchers, Creaser said, the next step will be to integrate findings about effective countermeasure signage with the requirements of highway sign regulations. The result should be effective methods of communicating with drivers to improve intersection safety.