A great deal of research has examined the efficacy of variable message signs (VMS) to induce driver behavior changes, improve safety conditions, and decongest the traffic network. However, there is little literature regarding the most effective ways to display this information on VMS. Furthermore, none of the previous contributions have concentrated on analyzing what impact flashing VMS have on drivers by using real traffic data. This article seeks to bridge this gap, analyzing the effect of incorporating intermittent light stimulation to messages on drivers’ behavior on a Chilean highway, using vehicle-by-vehicle data obtained in a non-intrusive way. In order to do so, an experiment was carried out to measure the responses of drivers when faced with two types of messages: (1) those intended to induce a speed reduction and (2) those aimed at generating lane changes. From the statistical models we obtained several insights. Our results show that flashing messages may increase the effectiveness of VMS depending on environmental and traffic conditions. In particular, for speed moderation messages, we found 12 significant effects, showing, for example, that a flashing message is most effective in the hours of darkness, with low congestion, small spacing, and low average speeds. Additionally, it has a more significant impact on experienced drivers. On the other hand, for lane change messages, we found five significant effects, showing that flashing messaging reduces its effectiveness in situations where a high cognitive load is required, such as in high flow and high average speeds. No particular effects were identified in either case for specific vehicle types.
- automatic vehicle identification
- driver behavior
- intelligent transportation systems
- variable message signs