Evaluation of Signage Alternatives for Express Lane Facilities

Express lanes are usually tolled freeway lanes that are separated from general-purpose lanes to provide a higher level of mobility. Guide signs upstream of express lanes are especially crucial as drivers have to read these signs and then comprehend and react to them accordingly while traveling at high speeds. This report presents a focus group study to obtain drivers’ feedback on different express lane sign design alternatives, with a special focus on signs near the entrance of express lane facilities. It also includes a review of the current standards in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) for express lane signs and the use of signs on existing express lane facilities from across the country. The provisions of regulatory signs, guide signs, and tolling agency’s pictograph on express lanes are provided in Chapter 2E: Toll Road Signs and Chapter 2G: Preferential and Managed Lane Signs of the MUTCD. However, many existing express lane signs have not been updated to meet the current MUTCD standards for express lane signs. The existing express lane signs were found to vary not only in the types of information they display, but also in color, size, layout, and number of sign panels used. The signs were found to generally display information on toll amounts and accessibility status, and none were found to display comparative travel times on express lanes vs. general-purpose lanes. A focus group study involving 49 participants was conducted to assess drivers’ understandings, preferences, and opinions toward the guide signs at the entrance of express lanes. Sign design alternatives as they relate to the following categories were evaluated: (1) sign legend preference for toll-exempt vehicles in Florida; (2) display of travel time; (3) display of average speed in lieu of travel time; (4) preference for travel time vs. average speed; (5) display of comparative travel times on express lanes vs. general-purpose lanes; (6) preference of comparative travel times vs. comparative average speeds; (7) display of comparative travel times and toll amounts on express lanes and general-purpose lanes; and (8) interpretation of high toll amount on express lanes signs. Additional real-time information on travel time and average speed on express lanes and general-purpose lanes were found to help drivers decide if they want to use express lanes. However, focus group participants found both travel time and speed information to be ambiguous. It is recommended to educate drivers about these measures so that drivers correctly interpret this information. Although this additional information is useful to drivers, care needs to be taken to not overload drivers with too much information. It is imperative to consider the other existing signs and the fact that drivers need to comprehend this information while driving at high speeds.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This document was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, University Transportation Centers Program.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Lehman Center for Transportation Research

    10555 W Flagler Street
    Miami, FL  United States  33174

    National Center for Transportation Systems Productivity and Management (NCTSPM)

    Lamar Allen Sustainable Education Building
    788 Atlantic Drive
    Atlanta, GA  United States  30332-0355

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Alluri, Priyanka
    • Gan, Albert
    • Saha, Dibakar
    • Fernandez, Luis
    • Sadeghvaziri, Eazaz
    • ORCID 0000-0003-1002-237X
  • Publication Date: 2017-1


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 85p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01642803
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Created Date: Jul 31 2017 4:34PM