This paper addresses the impact of using automated flagging devices in road construction instead of using construction workers. To examine the efficacy of automating this construction activity, a group of drivers with diverse characteristics/demographics was involved in the study. The diverse characteristics included gender, age, years of driving experience, and level of formal education (e.g., high school, college, and graduate degrees). Each participant was requested to view road construction scenarios involving the use of traffic control means/devices. The participants were requested to complete a questionnaire after viewing the scenarios to determine the drivers’ perceptions (that is, comfort/discomfort) in each scenario. The scenarios were displayed on a computer, and an eye-tracking software was used to determine where drivers focused their attention as they approached the road construction zones. During the viewing of the scenarios, the eye-tracking software recorded the driver’s eye movements, determined the screen coordinates where the driver was looking, and noted the time spent at each coordinate. The results did not show significant differences in the drivers’ perceptions for the use of traditional flagging methods and the automated ones. However, the traditional methods (that is, involving labor) scored higher on the visibility questions, and the automated systems were judged more effective by younger drivers. Moreover, the use of automated systems did not present any noteworthy obstacles for construction companies in implementing traffic control plans during roadway improvements or repair.
Key words: Site traffic management, automated flagging, construction industry, traditional flagging.
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