Work zones can be dangerous, confusing environments for drivers. A daily-driven road can suddenly have an unfamiliar traffic pattern delineated by a sparse and sometimes inconsistent configuration of temporary traffic control devices.
At Georgia Tech, Dr. Michael Hunter and his PhD student Aaron Greenwood, are working with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to study driving environments in order to improve work zone safety.
In this project, individuals are shown still images of different freeways, roadside environments, and road work equipment. Their responses inform future designs that can make work zones more user-friendly. This project focuses on developing both short-term solutions (e.g. better ways of configuring existing devices) and long-term strategies (e.g. building traffic control devices specifically designed for complex road work environments. But before deploying those solutions in the field, a driving simulator will be used to refine this work; participants will drive through simulated freeways similar to those they would encounter in Georgia.
Simulation offers several advantages to field-testing; specifically: it allows for rapid testing of devices that don’t exist outside of a virtual world while measuring an array of performance metrics in a safe, controlled laboratory environment. The results and feedback from participants allows researchers to quickly develop new devices and virtual worlds to develop better configurations and devices that we can deploy in the field faster and with greater confidence.