Changeable Message Signs (CMS) and Safety Messages

Project Area(s): 
Energy and Infrastructure

In addition to providing information about road conditions, CMS in California have been used to support campaigns that encourage safer driving. Messages such as “Click it or Ticket,” “Don’t Speed, Save Lives,” and "Report Drunk Drivers, Call 911,” are displayed on CMS during designated time periods that coincide with broader safety campaigns. TSRC researchers investigated the effectiveness and consequences of using highway CMS to promote safety campaigns. The study used a variety of research methods to gain a stronger understanding of the impacts of displaying the safety messages on the CMS, including: 1) a literature review on the effects of CMS usage on traffic flow and the effects of messages that are not directed at an immediate traffic situation; 2) interviews with experts and stakeholders to gain a stronger understanding of current concerns, benefits, and expectations regarding the use of CMS for safety message campaigns; 3) focus groups and in-person surveys for those downstream from CMS displaying safety messages and a state-wide telephone survey to determine public perceptions regarding CMS and safety messages; and 4) analysis of data including traffic speeds and highway incidents that might be impacted by CMS displaying safety messages.

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