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User-Centered Smart Traffic Sign Development Study

Status:  Complete
Report Date:  06/27/2023


Flaggers directing traffic in work zones have a dangerous job. They are often considered the first line of defense against stopping distracted or aggressive drivers from entering work zones. Prior smart sign prototypes that direct traffic and detect unsafe vehicles approaching a work zone have not been successful due to complex operational requirements and prohibitive costs. New research, however, has brought local transportation agencies closer to a safer solution. Working directly with maintenance workers to ensure their needs and expectations were met, researchers developed and tested two smart sign systems. Both a Stop/Slow paddle, similar to what flaggers traditionally use, and a portable traffic signal prototype were modified to include vehicle trajectory tracking and audiovisual warning capabilities. Testing the system in a driving simulator revealed safer stopping behavior at work zones with the Stop/Slow paddle system. Further research will fine-tune and test the system in a real-life setting.

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