Evaluation of Colored VMS Boards

Variable message signs (VMS), often referred to as changeable message signs or dynamic message signs, present traffic information to motorists in either real-time or asynchronous static conditions. Typically installed on freeways, VMS can communicate information to motorists that includes early warning messages, advisory messages, or alternative route messages. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is in the process of installing new, permanent VMS along several corridors throughout the state. Some of these signs are capable of presenting full-color messages to approaching drivers. PennDOT wishes to exploit their use for roadway users so that drivers will be better able to plan their travel and select the best travel routes in real time. The objective of the research project described herein was to evaluate the visibility and comprehensibility of a series of alternate VMS sign designs to provide PennDOT with research-based guidance to format optimal sign designs. A subset of monochromatic VMS (amber in color), representing current usage in Pennsylvania, was also included in the study to determine the bests way to convey information using this type of sign. The results of the study show that the best design for comprehensibility and visibility of VMS signs would entail the following: (1) messages would display only time information, not travel distance information; (2) route numbers would be displayed by numbers rather than shields; (3) monochromatic signs would be used, but if colored VMS are used, the best use of color would be to display a congested travel time in red; and (4) the background would be black. Following these guidelines would result in the best comprehensibility of signs with no significant difference in the gender, age, or colorblindness of travelers.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Maps; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 54p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01678069
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: PA-2018-007-511601 WO 004, LTI 2018-10
  • Contract Numbers: 4400015622
  • Created Date: Aug 2 2018 9:20AM