Proactive Evaluation of Traffic Signs Using a Traffic Sign Simulator
Traffic signs and pavement markings are a crucial aspect of road design since they are essential sources of information for road users to calibrate their driving behavior, evaluate route possibilities and cope with unexpected events. A proactive evaluation of (the quality of) these road design elements will help to improve the safety performance of the roadway. This paper presents the Traffic Sign Simulator, an innovative research tool to study the influence of these elements on road users’ routing decisions, lane choice and visual behavior, to investigate road users’ comprehension of these signs, and to collect suggestions for improvements. Using a driving simulator mock-up, participants navigate through a full HD video from route(s) in which the planned traffic signs have been digitally implemented using specialized software for camera-tracking and 3D video-integration. Participants’ route and lane choice and their visual behavior (using eye tracking) are monitored while driving through the scenario(s). Laptop preand post-tests are applied to collect additional in-depth information concerning the participants’ processing, comprehension and general evaluation of the traffic signs and suggestions for improvement. The paper illustrates the possibilities of the Traffic Sign Simulator with a case study that examined the effectiveness of temporary work zone signalization (i.e., traffic signs, digital information panels and pavement markings) as it was used during the reconstruction works on the Vilvoorde fly-over near Brussels, one of the busiest interchanges in the Belgian motorway network.