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Article

Visual Perception and Understanding of Variable Message Signs: The Influence of the Drivers’ Age and Message Layout

1
DICAAR—Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Architecture, University of Cagliari, 09123 Cagliari, Italy
2
Infrastructure Planning Team, Cumbria County Council, Carlisle CA1 1RD, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Miguel A. Perez and Tom Brijs
Received: 12 May 2021 / Revised: 29 July 2021 / Accepted: 25 August 2021 / Published: 28 August 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Traffic Safety and Driver Behaviour 2021)
Variable message signs (VMS) are used to display messages providing up-to-date traffic-relevant information so that drivers can safely adapt their behavior in real time. The information reported in a VMS should be brief but comprehensive to minimize perception time. The latter can be influenced by the way the message is displayed. This study investigates how the different ways of displaying the same message can influence reading time and the information perception process at different driving speeds. Specifically, the following message characteristics are investigated: (i) use of uppercase and lowercase letters; (ii) use of familiar pictograms; and (iii) use of less familiar pictograms. Furthermore, as perception time typically changes with ageing, drivers belonging to three different age classes are tested. The experimentation was performed by simulating a vehicle passing along a straight road upon which a VMS displaying different messages was placed. Experimentation results are analyzed using the Kruskal–Wallis test, Friedman rank-sum test and Welch one-way ANOVA, showing that: (i) the use of uppercase or lowercase does not seem to significantly affect reading times; (ii) the use of pictograms that are not very familiar to habitual road-users can be counterproductive for the perception process; (iii) elderly drivers always have greater difficulty in perceiving the message than young or middle-aged drivers. The findings of this study can be of help for traffic authorities to design the most suitable structure for a VMS so that its information can be unequivocally and immediately conveyed to drivers. View Full-Text
Keywords: variable message signs; driving safety; drivers’ visual perception; drivers’ age; pictograms; human factors variable message signs; driving safety; drivers’ visual perception; drivers’ age; pictograms; human factors
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MDPI and ACS Style

Fancello, G.; Serra, P.; Pinna, C. Visual Perception and Understanding of Variable Message Signs: The Influence of the Drivers’ Age and Message Layout. Safety 2021, 7, 60. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/safety7030060

AMA Style

Fancello G, Serra P, Pinna C. Visual Perception and Understanding of Variable Message Signs: The Influence of the Drivers’ Age and Message Layout. Safety. 2021; 7(3):60. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/safety7030060

Chicago/Turabian Style

Fancello, Gianfranco, Patrizia Serra, and Claudia Pinna. 2021. "Visual Perception and Understanding of Variable Message Signs: The Influence of the Drivers’ Age and Message Layout" Safety 7, no. 3: 60. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/safety7030060

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