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167721-1 Report Abstract

3D Visualization as a Tool to Evaluate Sign Comprehension

Susan T. Chrysler, James Wright and Alicia Williams, Texas A&M University, August 2004, 64 pp. (167721-1)

Past research assessing sign comprehension has often employed methodologies such as simple, self-paced paper and pencil tests that ask “what do you think this sign means?” These studies often fail to detect any improvement in comprehension from one sign to another, newly designed version of the same sign. This experiment evaluated the effectiveness of different display methods to assess traffic sign comprehension. While a driving simulator allows fine measurements of driving performance, it is an expensive and inconvenient way to present signs for a simple multiple choice comprehension test. One of the aims of this study was to identify less expensive and more portable methods of testing sign comprehension. Different sign designs were compared which indicated freeway-to-freeway splits, lane drop exits, and left exits. A sign comprehension test was administered via the following methods: 1) Self-paced paper and pencil test of images of signs in a road context; 2) Self-paced paper and pencil survey of images of signs in isolation; 3) Limited exposure time computer presentation of the signs in road context; 4) ) Limited exposure time computer presentation of the signs in isolation; 5) Video loop of a driving scene generated by driving simulator software presented in a classroom; and 6) Fully interactive driver-in-the-loop presentation of the signs in appropriate roadway scenes in a wrap-around simulator. Results showed that for simple bold messages, the time-limited presentation media all performed similarly. The video presentation seemed to suffer some clarity reduction for text-heavy guide signs. The self-paced paper tests, as used in much previous work, showed higher comprehension scores for certain sign types.

Keywords: Traffic Sign Comprehension, Driving Simulator, Sign Understanding, Test Methodology

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 1.2 MB)