John Shawjwshaw@iastate.edu email >
Research Scientist, Public Science Collaborative
About the research
Rear-end collisions in work zones, induced primarily by speeding and tailgating, are a predominant concern for roadway safety. Although considerable research has shed light on the dangers and implications of speeding within these zones, there exists a conspicuous research gap on tailgating behaviors.
To address this gap, the present project was conducted in two main phases. In the first phase, a message design and comprehension test involved the development of graphics and messages tailored for both fixed signs and dynamic message signs (DMS). These messages were constructed to ensure not only that drivers understood them with ease but also that the messages emotionally resonated with drivers and conveyed positive sentiments. In the subsequent field test phase, the designed signs were installed in work zones to evaluate their effectiveness in real-world settings. Two key performance metrics, namely, the average vehicle headway and the probability of tailgating occurrences, were used for this evaluation.
Preliminary surveys among potential users indicated a strong inclination towards messages with a positive tone and without numerical specifics, underscoring the importance of the messages’ lucidity and favorable reception. Field evaluations carried out at single-lane closure and shoulder closure construction sites demonstrated the efficacy of the signs evaluated in the surveys. There was an increase in average vehicle headway and a reduction in the probability of tailgating occurrences at both sites. Collectively, this research provides meaningful insights into tailgating behaviors in work zones, bridging the knowledge gap and laying a foundation for work zone safety strategies.