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Minnesota Department of Transportation
Work zones present an increased risk to drivers and the work crew. To mitigate these risks; this study investigated the potential effects of in-vehicle messages to communicate work zone events to the driver. The researchers conducted literature reviews on risks imposed by work zones; along with design guidelines for any in-vehicle messaging system. The researchers then conducted a work zone safety survey to illustrate driver attitudes in Minnesota toward work zones; along with smartphone use and in-vehicle messages through smartphones. The survey found that a significant number of drivers make use of smartphones in the automobile; and they placed these smartphones in various locations throughout the vehicle. The survey was followed by a driving simulation study that tested drivers in two different types of work zones. Participants drove through these work zones three times; each with different messaging interfaces to communicate hazardous events to the driver. The interfaces included a roadside; portable changeable message sign; a smartphone presenting only auditory messages; and a smartphone presenting audio-visual messages. There was better driving performance on key metrics including speed deviation and lane deviation for the in-vehicle message conditions relative to the roadside signs. Furthermore; drivers reported significantly less mental workload and better usability; work zone event recall; and eye gaze behavior for the in-vehicle conditions relative to the roadside sign condition.
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