Public Opinion and Understanding of Advance Warning Arrow Displays Used in Short-Term, Mobile, and Moving Work Zones

In long-term work zones on multilane highways and/or freeways, the Federal Highway Administration has interpreted the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) to mean that only one advance warning arrow display can be used to denote the closure of a single lane. Where two or more lanes are closed, a single arrow display is used for each lane to be closed. However, in short duration, mobile, and moving work convoys the MUTCD allows the use of multiple arrow displays to indicate a single lane closure. These disparate uses for arrow displays create the potential for confusion by drivers. This paper describes the results of four focus group interviews with Midwestern drivers. Participants were shown several mocked images of shadow work vehicles with arrow displays and were questioned on how well they understood and/or interpreted the message conveyed by arrow displays depending on the display type and quantity of displays used, and looked specifically for potential driver confusion. Focus group participants generally considered panel displays that included motion (e.g., sequential arrows and sequential chevrons) as implying a more important situation and preferred their use over flashing versions. While participants were receptive to the use of multiple arrow displays on multiple shadow vehicles, a minority indicated that this conveyed a need to move over more than one lane. Participants also indicated that staggering sequential shadow vehicles from the shoulder into the closed lane provided useful information as to the number and location of the closed lanes.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This research was sponsored by the Smart Work Zone Deployment Initiative (SWZDI), a Federal Highway Administration pooled fund study administered by the Iowa Department of Transportation. Project Title: Development of Guidelines for the Use of Multiple Arrow Panels in Short Term, Short Duration, and Mobile Work Zones.
  • Corporate Authors:

    University of Kansas, Lawrence

    Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering
    1530 West 15th Street
    Lawrence, KS  United States  66045-7609

    Iowa State University, Ames

    Center for Transportation Research and Education
    2711 South Loop Drive, Suite 4700
    Ames, IA  United States  50010-8664

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Schrock, Steven D
    • See, Chen Fei
    • Mulinazzi, Thomas E
  • Publication Date: 2008-3


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 43p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01099042
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: KU: STE45110, Technical Report 45110-1
  • Contract Numbers: SWZDI Contract #09011
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI, USDOT
  • Created Date: May 15 2008 3:47PM