The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Evaluation of work zone design features to aid older drivers

TitleEvaluation of work zone design features to aid older drivers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsHeaslip K, Collura J, Knodler J.Michael A
JournalInstitute of Transportation Engineers. ITE Journal
Start Page36
Date Published03/2011
Accession Number01342400
KeywordsAged drivers, Comprehension, Design practices, Evaluation and assessment, Field studies, Focus groups, Lane closure, Rural highways, Speed, Tapers (Work zone traffic control), Variable message signs, Work zone safety, Work zone traffic control, Work zones

Work zones can present a special challenge to older drivers, who may have slower responses to unexpected situations. This paper discusses the results of a study conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of selected work zone design guidelines from the Federal Highway Administration’s Highway Design Handbook for Older Drivers and Pedestrians. A field study was conducted along a rural segment of highway in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Design features evaluated included lane closure/lane transition practices and portable variable message signs (VMS). A focus group was conducted to assess the perceptions of older drivers regarding the work zone configuration. The field study results indicate that the design features evaluated were effective in changing driver expectations, which may improve highway safety. The VMS had a significant effect on driver speed selection. Signage and the flashing arrow board helped drivers maneuver safely through the work areas. The focus group data also indicated that the design features improved driver comprehension. Directions for further research are discussed.