Evaluation of Driver Comprehension and Visual Attention of the Flashing Yellow Arrow Display for Permissive Right Turns

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Transportation Research Record

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This research explored driver comprehension and behaviors in Oregon with respect to right-turn signal displays focusing on the Flashing Yellow Arrow (FYA) in a driving simulator. A counterbalanced, factorial design was chosen to explore three independent variables: signal indication type and active display, length of the right-turn bay, and presence of pedestrians. Driver decision-making and visual attention were considered. Data were obtained from 46 participants (21 women, 25 men) turning right 736 times in 16 experimental scenarios. A Mixed-effects Ordered Probit Model and a Linear mixed model were used to examine the influence of driver demographics on observed performance. Results suggest that the FYA indication improves driver comprehension and behavioral responses to the permissive right-turn condition. When presented with the FYA indication in the presence of pedestrians, nearly all drivers exhibited caution while turning and yielding to pedestrians and stopping when necessary. For the same turning maneuver, drivers presented with a circular green (CG) indication were less likely to exhibit correct behavior. At least for Oregon drivers, another clear finding was a general lack of understanding of the steady red arrow (SRA) display for right turns. Most drivers assume the SRA indication requires a different response than the circular red (CR) and remain stopped during the entire red interval, thus resulting in efficiency losses. These findings suggest that transportation agencies could potentially improve driver yielding behavior and pedestrian safety at signalized intersections with high volumes of permissive right turns from exclusive right-turn lanes by using the FYA display in lieu of a steady CG display


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