Date of Award

5-2008

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Civil Engineering

Advisor

Per E. Garder

Second Committee Member

Thomas C. Sandford

Third Committee Member

Eric Landis

Abstract

Advanced Traveler Information Systems (ATIS) are a new technology to the State of Maine and there are many unanswered questions regarding the effect that they have on motorists. Therefore, a study is warranted to determine their effect on safety and driver behavior. The goal of the research is to not only quantifiably establish the benefits of ATIS deployment, but also identify the institutional barriers and "human-issues" associated with its implementation. Dynamic Message Signs (DMS), Variable Speed Limit Signs (VSLS) and Overheight Vehicle Detection (OHVD) systems are key components of ATIS, and are the means through which motorists can be provided with en-route information pertinent to their travels. NC-200 Traffic Analyzers (portable magnetic traffic sensors) by Nu-Metrics were used to measure traffic divergence from I-95 through Bangor as a result of DMS messages during incidents. This is the first time this type of analyzer has been used in Maine and much insight was gained on the benefits and difficulties of their use. Due to unforeseen construction occurring in the Bangor area creating multiple variables contributing to traffic divergence and the lack of logs for DMS activation/deactivation, it became nearly impossible to make some of the comparisons that had originally been planned. Speed data was collected using a radar gun during inclement weather events in order to determine what effect VSLS had on traveler speed. Speeds were collected during storms of varying intensity. The data suggests that motorists adjust their speed to conditions and what they feel is appropriate. This is also supported by survey responses. The fact that they do no slow down to the posted speed could be due in part to the VSLS not being enforced. Originally, comparisons were to be made with different speeds being displayed on the VSLS but due to policy issues it was not feasible to do this. Suggestions are made as to what the trigger criteria should be for displaying certain speeds. An OHVD system was installed in Bangor in August of 2006. The system has shown potential, with no hits to the I-95 overpass since installation (in the direction that the system had been installed to safeguard against hits). The system was activated twice - once from a flapping tarp and the other time from built up snow on top of a trailer. There was one hit to the bridge during the February evaluation period in the westbound direction where there is no OHVD currently installed. Also part of the study was identifying and evaluating the institutional issues and barriers associated with Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) deployment. Some of these issues include: long-term funding commitments for ATIS, acceptable messaging, integration of information databases, inter-agency coordination, enforcement, and education of the public.

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