Work Zone Speed Analysis Using Driving Simulator Data

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Master of Science

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This study investigates drivers' behavior in the highway work zone by incorporating virtual data collected by a high fidelity driving simulator. The study specifically examined speed variations along the work zone and compliance with the speed limit. A large network of 154 square miles southwest of Baltimore was developed in driving simulator. Over 100 participants from different socioeconomic groups were recruited to run driving tests under the study scenarios. Speed analysis was performed in both aggregate and disaggregate levels in work zone and in the areas under the influence of work zone related signs. The results demonstrate that drivers significantly comply with the speed limit in work zone and reduced their speed as they approached the work zone. Evaluation of speed limit violators confronting the work zone and its associated signs reveals that the majority of speed limit violators comply with the speed limit. Age, road familiarity and experience had a significant impact on speed limit compliance in the work zone while education level, income level and gender didn't reveal a clear association. Study results showed that although most of the drivers increased their speed immediately after passing the work zone, the compliance rate with the speed limit increased in comparison with the upstream zone, which demonstrate a sustainable effect of work zone and its associated signs on speed limit compliance behavior. The findings of this study could benefit transportation agencies for proper design of work zones and practice to increase safety for workers and drivers by predicting driver behavior in work zones.