The Human Factors Effects of Nine-panel Logo Signs

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Title: The Human Factors Effects of Nine-panel Logo Signs
Author: Maripalli, Uday Krishna
Advisors: Dr. Joseph E. Hummer, Committee Chair
Dr. John R. Stone, Committee Member
Dr. Kimberly S. Weems, Committee Member
Abstract: At many interchanges on North Carolina freeways, the number of businesses providing motorist services has grown. When the number of qualifying businesses providing a certain service at an interchange exceeds the number of logo panels allowed per sign—currently six—the NCDOT faces a dilemma. One option for the NCDOT is to increase the number of logos allowed per sign. The main concern is for motorist safety, in that drivers taking longer to read and comprehend signs may be distracted from more important parts of the driving task. The objective of this project was to determine whether nine-panel logo signs cause negative impacts on drivers from a human factors point of view. In particular, this project attempted to determine: 1. How do drivers use logo signs? 2. Are drivers using logo signs with more than six logos distracted away from driving tasks more than drivers using logo signs with six panels? Objective one was achieved by administering a driver survey. A 10-question form was developed, and the survey was administered at two rest areas off of interstates that already have some pilot nine-panel logo signs. The survey data provided insight into how motorists use panel logo signs. It was found that more drivers scan logo signs for a particular brand than read all of the logos. It was also found that most drivers use logo signs at some point, and that the most-frequently used logo sign is for gasoline, followed by the sign for food. However, drivers do not scan for particular brands of gasoline as often as for food or lodging. The second objective was achieved by conducting a slide-based experiment and by developing driver information load profiles. Thirty seven volunteer subjects participated in the experiment, in which the subjects were first given the name of a brand to scan for and were asked to indicate with a "yes", "no", or "not sure" response whether the specific business was represented on the sign. Six-panel and mixed-use signs performed better than nine-panel signs. However, the margin of difference in many cases was not significant. It was concluded that nine-panel logo signs performed well from a human factors point of view. Their correct response percentages were usually competitive with, and sometimes surpassed, the mixed-use signs, and were not far behind those of the six-panel signs. Driver information load profiles were developed using "Driver Information Load Software" developed by NCHRP to compare the load given to a driver by six panel logo signs to nine panel logo signs. A three lane highway of 11000 ft with one exit where the driver is assumed to make a maneuver was analyzed for six-panel and nine-panel logo signs. At a single point on the roadway, a nine-panel sign will likely distract some drivers away from the more important driving tasks longer than a six-panel or mixed-use sign. However, driver information load profiles showed that the information load demand for nine panel logo sign is only slightly higher than six panel sign; hence the distraction levels may not be substantial enough to cause a safety concern. It was concluded that nine-panel food or gas logo sign would impart equal amount of information load on driver as that of a six-panel double-exit logo sign. The research concluded that nine-panel logo signs performed well from a human factors point of view and there is no need to prohibit the use of nine-panel logo signs.
Date: 2007-05-10
Degree: MS
Discipline: Civil Engineering

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