Investigating Motorists’ Behaviors in Response to Supplementary Traffic Control Devices at Land Surveying Work Sites

Objective: Since land surveyors working alongside live traffic encounter unique safety challenges there is a great need for innovative and effective traffic control devices (TCDs) that alert motorists approaching short-term land surveying work sites. Unlike the volume of research that has been completed on traditional work zones, however, there is a limited amount of information that has been collected on how motorists respond to TCDs at land surveying work sites. This article aims to fill the void by investigating motorists’ behaviors in response to the use of 2 supplementary TCDs at land surveying work sites: portable plastic rumble strips (PPRS) and warning lights.

Method: Extensive field tests were conducted at various land surveying work sites on 2-lane 2-way urban roadways in New Jersey. Scenarios with and without the use of the supplemental TCDs were designed. Motorists’ behavior changes were then statistically examined by using surrogate safety measures including mean speed, speed variance, speed limit compliance, and braking action.

Results: Statistical analyses showed that the traffic speed variations did not significantly increase when the selected supplemental TCD was used; rather, motorists significantly reduced their driving speed. When warning lights and PPRS were separately deployed at the land surveying work sites the average reduction in mean speed was 6.7 and 15.2 percent, respectively. The mean speed was reduced by 19.7 percent when both of these supplementary TCDs were used. Logistic regression models developed to examine the speeding and braking behavior also showed that motorists were more likely to comply with the speed limit and increase their braking rate when the selected TCDs were used.

Conclusion: The use of supplemental TCDs can greatly contribute to the changes in motorists’ behaviors at surveying work sites. The changes in motorists’ driving behaviors imply that the motorists reacted favorably to the deployed TCDs at the land-surveying work sites.