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The flashing right turn signal with pedestrian indication : human factors studies to understand the potential of a new signal to increase awareness of and attention to crossing pedestrians.
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  • Abstract:
    The flashing pedestrian indicator (FPI) is intended to alert turning drivers to the potential presence of

    pedestrians in the roadway, facilitate scanning in the likely direction of pedestrians, and encourage caution and

    yielding behavior in response to pedestrians. Task 1.1 assessed younger (21-35 years), middle-aged (50-64

    years), and older (65+) drivers’ ability to comprehend the intended message of this new signal. Participants were

    presented with static driving scenes, containing the FPI (as well as other signal states), and were asked to report

    the meaning of the FPI in open-ended and multiple choice formats. Task 1.2 presented a separate group of

    participants with similar scenes and participants were asked to imagine they were a right-turning driver. In this

    task, participants were asked to report the correct action (go, stop, yield to pedestrian). Pedestrian presence was

    manipulated, as well as whether the intersection featured an FPI. Results of Task 1.1 indicated that drivers quickly

    picked up on the meaning of the FPI. However, there was some confusion regarding the meaning of the FPI for

    drivers proceeding straight through the intersection rather than turning right (participants often thought that that the

    signal meant that drivers proceeding straight through the intersection should expect pedestrians as well). Task 1.2

    indicated that, compared to a standard signal that did not feature an FPI, the FPI encouraged significantly more

    decisions to yield to pedestrians within a crosswalk both in timed and untimed responses. Participants were more

    likely to make a response to yield when the FPI was active even when no visible pedestrian was present.

    Furthermore, participants were slower in making their decision when no pedestrian was present. We interpret this

    pattern as indicating greater caution and search for pedestrians in the presence of the FPI. In general, few age

    differences were observed. Results suggested that the FPI is a promising signal with respect to comprehension,

    but additional research is needed to 1) further explore the source of, and potential solutions to, driver confusion

    uncovered in these studies, 2) evaluate driving behavior in response to the FPI, and 3) understand pedestrian

    response to the FPI. Additional laboratory and simulator studies are required before final recommendations can be

    made regarding implementation. Reported results provide insight into the design of these studies and the

    questions they should address.

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