Does the average motorist fully understand the meaning of the various traffic controls with which he or she is confronted on the highways? A failure to understand such controls could result in a driver error with tragic results. Traffic controls are developed by professional engineers and are generally adopted nationally after test trials and usage in various parts of the country. But, often little attention is given to determining (1) is the message or directive of the traffic control device clear and easily understood by the motoriests to whom the message is directed? and (2) do the motorists quickly get the message and understand what the traffic control device means for their driving? This is a human factors study in 1978 of over 3,000 drivers' understanding of certain traffic control device driving situations (TCD's). Approximately twenty TCD's were selected to be tested in terms of comprehension by the average motorist. Roughly one-third of these TCD's were signs, one-third markings, and one-third were signals. Ultimately, sixteen TCD's were studied. A motion picture test film was made of these TCD's at various locations throughout the U.S. putting the film viewer in the driver's seat of a moving car. Several traffic engineers (State and City) cooperated by directing the study team to appropriate sites, where examples of various TCD's could be filmed. After the films were edited, an appropriate multiple choice questionnaire was devised and refined during trial showings before the final research tool was created. The research program included a 15-minute movie, an answer sheet, and special marker pens with an ink that reveals immediately to the driver whether he has chosen the correct answer or an incorrect one. At various locations throughout the U.S., many local AAA Clubs were involved in showing this film to civic and other groups, collecting the answer sheets, and forwarding them to the study team for analysis. 3,164 motorists from all areas of the country participated in the test program of driver understanding of 23 different scenes of 16 traffic control signs, signals and markings. Responses were analyzed by region of the country in which the drivers did most of their driving (East, West, and Central USA as shwon in Figure 1) and the age and sex of the drivers to determine if there were any significant differences among these groups of drivers in understanding the traffic control driving situations. (Author)

  • Corporate Authors:

    AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

    8111 Gatehouse Road
    Falls Church, VA  United States  22047
  • Authors:
    • Hulbert, S
    • Beers, J
    • Fowler, P
  • Publication Date: 1979-3

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Photos; Tables;
  • Pagination: 56 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00330620
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Oct 28 1981 12:00AM