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Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-13-048
Date: October 2013
This appendix shows the moderator guide used to lead the task 4 focus groups.
Good (afternoon/evening). I'm glad you could take time out of your day to be here. My name is Christian Richard, and I am the moderator for today's discussion. Helping me out today will be my co-moderator, Monica Lichty. The purpose of today's group is to talk about a number of topics related to yourselves, driving, and your experiences at freeway interchanges. As you were probably told by the person who called you, we will be here for about an hour and a half.
Before we begin, I'd like to make some self-disclosures. Monica and I are scientists that work for a company called Battelle, which conducts research for clients on a wide variety of subjects. My particular group does research investigating ways to make roadways safer and easier for drivers to use.
Our discussions here today are part of a larger project looking at the design and construction of highway interchanges. Monica and I are travelling around the country talking to groups like yours and giving them opportunities to share their thoughts, ideas, and feelings about interchanges. That's what we'll do here tonight.
Just so you know, my job is only to report what you have to say back to my client, the Federal Highway Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation. I have no vested interest in your answers. I am not here to sell you anything, and my job will continue regardless of how you answer. Thus, I encourage you to be honest, and feel free to offer both positive and negative comments.
As you also may have noticed, this session is being videotaped. This is not because we want to keep track of "who said what" but more to keep a record of today's information for our report. Monica and I are doing a number of these groups in multiple cities, and it would be difficult for us to remember the specifics of each group without having something to help verify what we're reporting. I assure you, the tape will be used for no other purpose, and the recording will be destroyed once this project is over.
Before we get started, I'll go over some ground rules that will help us get the information we need and help you get an idea about how focus groups work.
Are there any questions about how this focus group will work? OK, before we begin, let's go around the room and introduce ourselves by giving our first names and a brief description of where we'd be and what we'd be doing if we weren't here right now.
Now that we all know each other, let's get started.
I mentioned earlier that this group is part of a larger project that is gathering data about what drivers expect to see at interchanges.
Before I go any further, I want to make sure we are all talking about the same things when I refer to interchanges. Specifically, I'm talking about the collection of ramps, exits, overpasses, signs, lanes marking, and other things you encounter when one freeway intersects with another freeway or a set of busy local roads. Most of you are probably familiar with clover leaf interchanges. [PPT slide 3] This is the kind of roadway that I'm talking about.
So, raise your hand if you have ever been lost, missed an exit, or driven on an interchange that you found to be confusing. [Look at responses.] This is one of the main things we will be discussing tonight.
As an aside, have you ever driven in an interchange that looked like one of these [PPT slide 4]?
These complex interchanges show up in the real-world as well, not just in cartoons [PPT slide 5].
We will be talking a lot about challenging interchanges in the next hour, but first, I'd like to start off by talking a little bit about simpler interchanges. Ones that most people would find easy to drive through. As a group, let's try to draw a typical interchange based on what you normally expect to encounter at a simple interchange. [PPT slide 6]
Imagine you are driving down a freeway with 3 lanes and you need to exit onto a major local road.
For the next part of the focus group, were going to talk about specific interchanges. We will be viewing video footage of a vehicle driving through three different interchanges; the videos were filmed from the driver's perspective. As we view these videos, imagine that you are driving on these roadways for the first time, so you have to rely on the information from the video to figure out how to get through the interchange.
All three of the videos were filmed in Portland, OR.
We will discuss each interchange, one at a time. For each interchange, our discussion will follow a similar format.
Discussions about driving can cover many topics but we are most interested in finding out what you are thinking as you're "driving" along the roadway, how you expect the roadway to look, and what signs you expect to see.
So now if everyone can turn to page 2 in your booklet, we'll start the scenario.
For this first drive, you are crossing a bridge on I-405, and your objective is to get onto US-30 West.
Booklet Question 1: It is important to us to get your initial impressions, so please do not go back and change your responses after move on to the next question.
Critical Point 1: Read Overhead Guide Signs
Critical Point 2: Read Exit Signage
Critical Point 3: Read Final Signage
Before we move onto the next scenario, we will take a 5-minute break. Feel free to stretch your legs and grab a snack.
For this drive, you are currently on 30 West, and your objective is to reach the City Center.
Critical Point 1: Read Arrow-Per-Lane Signs
Critical Point 2: Read Diagrammatic Sign
This is called a diagrammatic sign, because it provides more of a "picture" of what the lanes do. Are you familiar with these?
Critical Point 3: Read Split Diagrammatic Signs
Critical Point 4: Read Final Arrow-Per-Lane Signs
For this drive, you are going to pretend that you are using a map to get to a destination that you are unfamiliar with. Your objective is to get onto Interstate 5 South. So please look at this map before we begin. Essentially, you are going North over the bridge on I-405 to get to I-5S. The exit is at the end of the bridge.
Critical Point 1: Read Overhead Signs
Critical Point 2: Read Side-Mounted Guide Signs
NOTE: there is also a guide sign on the right
Thank you again for taking the time to come out and talk with us this [afternoon, evening]. Before closing, are there any additional thoughts you'd like to offer about the topics we discussed? [If not, conclude the session, if so, briefly allow additional thoughts to come forward.]
Before you leave, we ask that you please complete a questionnaire. This questionnaire asks some basic demographic questions and a few questions about your driving history. You may skip any of the questions that you do not feel comfortable answering. When you are finished, please return it to Monica or myself. We will be in the lobby handing out the stipends and getting you to sign receipts.
Topics: research, safety
Keywords: research, safety, Complex Interchanges, Interchanges, Signage, Driver Behavior
TRT Terms: research, Safety and security, Safety, Transportation safety