Evaluation of Road Weather Messages on DMS Based on Roadside Pavement Sensors

Project Details







Iowa Department of Transportation

Principal Investigator
Skylar Knickerbocker

Research Engineer, REACTOR

Co-Principal Investigator
Zachary Hans

Director, CWIMS

About the research

Winter weather and its corresponding surface conditions impact the safety and mobility of thousands of motorists annually. Highway agencies spend millions of dollars (in resources and personnel) in an effort to ensure safe and efficient travel. However, regardless of maintenance investment and activities, other factors, particularly driver behavior during imperfect conditions, can significantly impact mobility. Other innovative, cost-effective strategies may be necessary at targeted locations to better inform motorists of conditions and influence their behavior. One such strategy is to use dynamic message signs (DMS) that have been deployed across the state to alert drivers of conditions ahead based on roadside sensors. This type of advisory system can provides real-time information allowing drivers to adjust driving behavior to the conditions ahead of them.

The objective of this project is to analyze traffic behavior along a specially instrumented portion of the Hwy 12 corridor under various winter weather conditions when advisory messages triggered by roadside pavement sensors are provided via DMS. The advisory messages will be weather-related and will alert motorists of unexpected/isolated conditions ahead. In addition to the roadside pavement sensors, in-place and temporary traffic detectors will be used to measure any changes in driving behavior due to the advisory messages. Additional data sources (probe data, Waze, AVL, etc) will also be explored to determine alternative methods to quantify changes in driving behavior. To evaluate the effectiveness of the system to change driving behavior, multiple performance measures will be established, including, at a minimum, changes in speed and following distance of vehicles. Multiple strategies for analysis will be implemented to measure the impact the system has on driving behavior, including analyzing speeds along the corridor before and after the DMS spatially and/or monitoring a parallel route that can act as a control location, based on feedback from MnDOT.