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Publication Number: FHWA-RD-97-135
Date: January 1998

Older Driver Highway Design Handbook

GLOSSARY

 

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AAAFTS. American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety. arrow up back to top

AASHTO. American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials. arrow up back to top

Ambient conditions. The visual background or surrounding atmospheric and visibility conditions. arrow up back to top

Angular motion sensitivity. The ability of an observer to detect changes in the apparent distance and direction of movement of an object as a function of the change in the angular size of the visual stimulus on the observer's retina. arrow up back to top

Angular velocity threshold. The rate of change in angular size of a visual stimulus that is necessary for an observer to discern that an object's motion has increased or decreased. arrow up back to top

Annual average daily traffic (AADT). The total volume passing a point or segment of a highway facility in both directions for one year divided by the number of days in the year. arrow up back to top

ATSSA. American Traffic Safety Services Association. arrow up back to top

Attraction signing. Information/supplemental signs featuring logos or verbal messages pointing out places to visit or food, gas, and rest stop locations. arrow up back to top

Barnes Dance timing. Type of exclusive signal timing phase where pedestrians may also cross diagonally in addition to crossing either street. Also referred to as scramble timing. arrow up back to top

Brake reaction time. The interval between the instant that the driver recognizes the presence of an object or hazard on the roadway ahead and the instant that the driver actually applies the brakes. arrow up back to top

Buttonhook ramp. J-shaped ramp that connects to a parallel or diagonal street or frontage road, which is often well removed from the interchange structure and other ramps. arrow up back to top

Changeable message sign (CMS). Sometimes called portable changeable or variable message sign. This traffic control device has the flexibility to display a variety of messages to fit the needs of the traffic and highway situation. arrow up back to top

Channelization. The separation or regulation of conflicting traffic movement into definite paths of travel by the use of pavement markings, raised islands, or other suitable means, to facilitate the safe and orderly movement of both vehicles and pedestrians. arrow up back to top

Chevron signs. A chevron symbol (sideways "V") in black, against standard yellow background, on a vertical rectangle. Used as an alternate or supplement to standard delineators and to large arrow signs. arrow up back to top

CIE. Commission Internationale de l'Éclairage (International Commission on Street/Highway Lighting). arrow up back to top

Cloverleaf interchange. A form of interchange that provides indirect right-turn movements in all four quadrants by means of loops. Generally used where the turning and weaving volumes are relatively low. This type of interchange eliminates all crossing conflicts found in a diamond interchange but requires more area. The cloverleaf type of interchange can have one or two points of entry and exit on each through roadway. arrow up back to top

Complete interchange lighting (CIL). Includes lighting in the interchange area on both the acceleration and deceleration areas plus the ramps through the terminus. arrow up back to top

Composite photometry. Light measurement applied to a high-mast lighting system that employs a counterbeam arrangement, to take advantage of the efficiency with which pavement luminance can be increased with light directed upstream, while enhancing positive contrast through additivity of vehicle headlighting with the light directed downstream. arrow up back to top

Concrete safety shaped barrier (CSSB). Commonly used median barrier where there is heavy vehicle travel and narrow medians. arrow up back to top

Contrast. See luminance contrast.arrow up back to top

Contrast sensitivity. Ability to perceive a lightness or brightness difference between two areas. Frequently measured for a range of target patterns differing in value along some dimension such as pattern element size and portrayed graphically in a contrast sensitivity function in which the reciprocal of contrast threshold is plotted against pattern spatial frequency or against visual angle subtended at the eye by pattern elements (such as bars). arrow up back to top

Critical gap. The gap (distance to nearest vehicle) in oncoming or cross traffic that a driver will accept to initiate a turning or crossing maneuver 50 percent of the time it is presented, typically measured in seconds. arrow up back to top

Dark adaptation. Adjustment of the eye to low levels of illumination, which results in increased sensitivity to light. arrow up back to top

Decision sight distance (DSD). The distance required for a driver to detect an unexpected or otherwise difficult-to-perceive information source or hazard in a roadway environment that may be visually cluttered, recognize the hazard or its threat potential, select an appropriate speed and path, and initiate and complete the required safety maneuver safely and efficiently. arrow up back to top

Depth perception. The ability to distinguish the relative distance of objects in visual space, used to interpret their motion over multiple observations. arrow up back to top

Diamond interchange. The simplest and perhaps most common type of interchange.This type of interchange contains a one-way diagonal-type ramp in one or more of the quadrants. The diamond interchange provides for all movements to and from the intersecting road. arrow up back to top

Diverge steering zone. Used with interchange/ramp exit models, it is the distance upstream from the exit gore at which a driver begins to diverge from the freeway. arrow up back to top

Divided attention. The ability of a driver to allocate attention among tasks or stimuli in the roadway environment, where more than one task or stimulus is perceived to be important to safe performance at a given time. arrow up back to top

Divided highway. Roadway that is separated by a median. arrow up back to top

Dynamic visual acuity. Acuteness or clarity of vision for an object that has angular movement relative to the observer. Acuity depends on sharpness of retinal focus, sensitivity of nervous elements, oculomotor coordination, interpretative faculty of the brain, and contextual variables. arrow up back to top

Edgeline visibility. The detection/recognition of painted pavement surface delineation along roadway edges. arrow up back to top

Exit gore area. The area located immediately between the left edge of a ramp pavement and the right edge of the mainline roadway pavement at a merge or diverge area. arrow up back to top

FARS. Fatal Accident Reporting System. arrow up back to top

FHWA. Federal Highway Administration. arrow up back to top

Full diamond interchange. Interchange with a one-way diagonal-type ramp in each quadrant. arrow up back to top

Gap acceptance. The decision by a driver that there is sufficient time and/or distance ahead of an approaching vehicle to allow safe performance of a desired crossing or merging maneuver. arrow up back to top

Gap judgments. The judgment of a driver of the time and/or distance ahead of an approaching vehicle traveling in a lane that the driver wishes to turn across or merge into. arrow up back to top

Gap search and acceptance (GSA) zone. Used with interchange/ramp entry models, it is the zone in which the driver searches, evaluates, and accepts or rejects the available lags or gaps in the traffic stream for execution of a merging maneuver. arrow up back to top

Guard (guide) rail. Protective barrier along a roadway to prevent vehicles from leaving the roadway. arrow up back to top

Half-diamond interchange. An interchange with a one-way diagonal-type ramp in two adjacent quadrants. This type of interchange is appropriate to situations in which traffic demand is predominantly in one direction. arrow up back to top

High-mast lighting. Illumination of a large area by means of a cluster of luminaires which are designed to be mounted in fixed orientation at the top of a high mast (generally 25 m [80 ft] or higher). arrow up back to top

High-spatial-frequency stimulus. A visual target characterized by fine detail. arrow up back to top

Horizontal alignment. The linear (tangent) character or specific degree of curvature describing the geometry of a defined section of highway in plain view. arrow up back to top

IIHS. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. arrow up back to top

Illuminance. The density of luminous flux (rate of emission of luminous energy flow of a light source in all directions) incident on a surface; the quotient of the flux divided by the area of the surface, when the surface is uniformly illuminated. arrow up back to top

Illumination. The amount of light falling onto a surface. arrow up back to top

Initial acceleration (IA) zone. Used with interchange/ramp entry models, it is the zone in which the driver accelerates to reduce the speed differential between the ramp vehicle and the freeway vehicles to an acceptable level for completing the merge process. arrow up back to top

In-service brightness level (ISBL). The brightness level of a delineation treatment at an intermediate point in its anticipated service life; this value varies by type of delineator, type of wear (traffic level), and environmental conditions. arrow up back to top

Interchange (grade separation). A system of interconnecting roadways that provides for the movement of traffic between two or more highways on different levels. arrow up back to top

Intersecting angle (skew). The angle formed by the intersection of two roadways (other than a 90-degree angle). arrow up back to top

Intersection (at grade). The general area where two or more highways join or cross without grade separation, including the roadway and roadside facilities for traffic movements within it. arrow up back to top

Intersection sight distance (ISD). The unobstructed view of an entire (at-grade) intersection and sufficient lengths of the intersecting highway to permit control of the vehicle to avoid collisions during through and turning movements. arrow up back to top

ISTEA. Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. arrow up back to top

ITE. Institute of Transportation Engineers. arrow up back to top

Joint flexibility. An aspect of the physical condition of the driver that can be assessed to determine whether the driver has sufficient strength to turn the steering wheel, apply the brakes, and generally control the vehicle. arrow up back to top

Legibility Index (LI). Used to describe the relative legibility of different letter styles, it is calculated from the distance at which a character, word, or message is legible divided by the size of the letters on the sign. arrow up back to top

Limited sight distance. A restricted preview of the traveled way downstream due to a crest vertical curve or horizontal curvature of the roadway, or to blockage or obstruction by a natural or manmade roadway feature or by (an)other vehicle(s). arrow up back to top

Luminaire. A complete lighting unit consisting of a lamp or lamps together with the parts designed to distribute the light, to position and protect the lamps, and to connect the lamps to the power supply. arrow up back to top

Luminance. The luminous intensity or brightness of any surface in a given direction, per unit of projected area of the surface as viewed from that direction, independent of viewing distance. The SI unit is the candela per square meter. arrow up back to top

Luminance contrast. The difference between the luminance of a target area and a surrounding background area, divided by the background luminance alone (e.g., lane marking minus lane pavement surface, divided by pavement surface.)arrow up back to top

Measures of effectiveness (MOEs). Descriptions of driver or traffic behavior which quantify the level of safety or the quality of service provided by a facility or treatment to drivers, passengers, or pedestrians; examples include vehicle speed, trajectory, delay, and similar measures, especially accidents, plus indices of performance such as reaction time. In research studies, the MOEs are the dependent measures (e.g., the effects/behaviors resulting from introduction of a treatment or countermeasure).

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Median barriers. A longitudinal system of physical barriers used to prevent an errant vehicle from crossing the portion of a divided highway separating traffic moving in opposite directions. arrow up back to top

Merge steering control (MSC) zone. Used with interchange/ramp entry models, it is the zone in which the driver enters the freeway and positions the vehicle in the nearest lane on the mainline. arrow up back to top

Minimum required visibility distance (MRVD). The distance necessary to permit detection and comprehension, plus driver decisionmaking, response selection, and completion of a vehicle maneuver, if necessary. arrow up back to top

MUTCD. Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways.arrow up back to top

NCHRP. National Cooperative Highway Research Panel. arrow up back to top

Negative offset. A term used to describe the alignment of opposing left-turn lanes at an intersection; this geometry exists when the left boundary of one left-turn lane, when extended across the intersection, falls to the right of the right boundary of the opposite left-turn lane. arrow up back to top

NHTSA. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. arrow up back to top

No turn on red (NTOR). This message on signs is used to indicate that a right turn on red (or left-turn on red for one-way streets) is not permitted at an intersection.

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NTSB. National Transportation Safety Board. arrow up back to top

Ocular media. The internal structure of the eye, including the aqueous, through which light entering through the cornea must be transmitted before reaching the photosensitive retina. arrow up back to top

Ocular transmittance. The amount of light reaching the retina relative to the amount incident upon the cornea. arrow up back to top

Osteoarthritis. A degenerative form of arthritis. arrow up back to top

Parclo loop ramp. A (partial cloverleaf) interchange with loops in advance of the minor road with direction of travel on the freeway; and in the same interchange area, an interchange with loops beyond the minor road. arrow up back to top

Partial interchange lighting (PIL). Lighting on an interchange that consists of a few luminaires located in the general areas where entrance and exit ramps connect with the through traffic lanes of a freeway (between the entry gore and the end of the acceleration ramp or exit gore and the beginning of the deceleration ramp). arrow up back to top

Peak intensity. The maximum strength of a traffic signal maintained through a defined viewing angle; measured in candelas. arrow up back to top

Pedestrian control device. A special type of device (including pedestrian signal indications and sign panels) intended for the exclusive purpose of controlling pedestrian traffic in crosswalks. arrow up back to top

Pedestrian crosswalk. An extension of a sidewalk across an intersection or across a roadway at a midblock location to accommodate pedestrian movement. arrow up back to top

Perception-reaction time (PRT). The interval between a driver's detection of a target stimulus or event and the initiation of a vehicle control movement in response to the stimulus or event. arrow up back to top

Positive offset. A term used to describe the alignment of opposing left-turn lanes at an intersection; this geometry exists when the left boundary of one left-turn lane, when extended across the intersection, falls to the left of the right boundary of the opposite left-turn lane. arrow up back to top

Post-mounted delineators (PMDs). Retroreflective devices located serially at the side of a roadway to indicate alignment. Each delineator consists of a flat reflecting surface, typically a vertical rectangle, mounted on a supporting post. arrow up back to top

Raised pavement markers (RPMs). Used as positioning guides and/or as supplements or substitutes for other types of markings, these markers conform to the color of the marking for which they serve as a positioning guide, can be mono- or bi-directional, and are fastened into the pavement with the reflector surface visible above the road surface. arrow up back to top

Reaction time (RT). The time from the onset of a stimulus to the beginning of a driver's (or pedestrian's) response to the stimulus, by a simple movement of a limb or other body part. arrow up back to top

Rheumatoid arthritis. A usually chronic disease of unknown cause characterized by pain, stiffness, inflammation, swelling, and sometimes destruction of joints. Drivers with this condition sometimes require compensatory equipment for their vehicle. In acute conditions, individuals should not drive because of weakness and extreme tenderness in the joints of the wrists and hands. arrow up back to top

Right turn on red (RTOR). Unless otherwise specified by traffic signal control signage, this practice permits a driver to proceed with a right turn on a red signal after stopping at signalized intersections. It provides increased capacity and operational efficiency at a low cost. arrow up back to top

Route Marker Reassurance Assembly. Consists of a cardinal direction marker (i.e., east, west, north, and south) and a route marker. arrow up back to top

Saccadic movement. A change in visual fixation from one point to another by means of a quick, abrupt movement of the eye. arrow up back to top

Scissors off-ramp. A condition where one-way traffic streams cross by merging and diverging maneuvers onto exit ramps. Drivers tend to go straight ahead onto an off-ramp instead of turning left. arrow up back to top

Selective attention. The ability, on an ongoing moment-to-moment basis while driving, to identify and allocate attention to the most relevant information, especially embedded when within a visually complex scene and in the presence of a number of distractors. arrow up back to top

Senile miosis. An aging characteristic involving an excessive smallness or contraction of the pupil of the eye. arrow up back to top

Sight distance. The length of highway visible to the driver. arrow up back to top

Sight triangle. In plan view, the area defined by the point of intersection of two roadways, and by the driver's line of sight from the point of approach along one leg of the intersection, to the farthest unobstructed location on another leg of the intersection. arrow up back to top

Situational awareness. The selective attention to and perception of environmental elements within a specified space and time envelope, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status in the near future. arrow up back to top

Slip ramp. A diagonal ramp, more properly called a cross connection, which connects with a parallel frontage road. arrow up back to top

Small target visibility (STV). A proposed criterion for roadway lighting. The concept assumes that increased target visibility results in both increased nighttime safety and improved nighttime driver performance, a surrogate for reduced accident risk. arrow up back to top

Speed-change lane (SCL). Used in interchange/ramp exit models, it refers to the speed-change maneuver on deceleration lanes segmented components. arrow up back to top

Steering control (SC) zone. Used with interchange/ramp entry models, it is the zone where positioning of the vehicle along a path from the controlling ramp curvature onto the speed-change lane is accomplished. arrow up back to top

Stereopsis. Binocular visual perception of three-dimensional space based on retinal disparity. arrow up back to top

Stopping sight distance (SSD). The sight distance required to permit drivers to see an obstacle soon enough to stop for it under a defined set of reasonable worst-case conditions, without the performance of any avoidance maneuver or change in travel path; the calculation of SSD depends upon speed, gradient, road surface and tire conditions, and assumptions about the perception-reaction time of the driver. arrow up back to top

Temporary pavement marking treatment. This treatment primarily involves the application of paint or tape striping and has been shown to be important for effective vehicle guidance at highway work sites. arrow up back to top

T-intersection. An intersection that involves three legs, where one leg is perpendicular to the other two legs. There are several types of this intersection, such as plain, with turning lanes, and channelized. arrow up back to top

Traffic control device (TCD). The prime, and often the only, means of communicating with the driving public. These devices (e.g., signs, markings, signals, islands) must be used discriminately, uniformly, and effectively to assure correct driver interpretation and response. arrow up back to top

Transient adaptation factor. A reduction in target contrast caused by the process of transient visual adaptation. arrow up back to top

Transient visual adaptation (TVA). The process in which the (driver's) eye fixates upon roadway locations or surrounding environments at different luminance levels, continuously adapting to higher and lower levels; this process temporarily reduces contrast sensitivity. arrow up back to top

TRB. Transportation Research Board. arrow up back to top

Trumpet interchange. A three-leg interchange where a connecting highway terminates and where only a small amount of traffic moves between the terminating highway and one of the two legs of the freeway. The trumpet is laid out so that this minor traffic moves via a 200-degree loop. arrow up back to top

Two-quadrant cloverleaf interchange. A type of partial cloverleaf where most traffic leaving one highway turns to the same leg of the intersecting highway. arrow up back to top

Useful field of view (UFOV). That area surrounding the point of fixation within which one can perform more complex tasks. This might include discriminating among letters or geometric figures, identifying a target against a complicated background display, or combining a secondary task in the periphery with an ongoing task in the forward (central) field of view. arrow up back to top

Variable message sign (VMS). See changeable message sign.

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Veiling glare. Stray light entering the eye that reduces the contrast of a target upon which the driver has fixated; this may result from the driver's direct view of light sources, such as opposing headlights or roadway luminaires, or from light reflected from surfaces near the target's location. arrow up back to top

Vertical curve. The parabolic curve connecting the two approach grades on either side of a hill. arrow up back to top

Visual acuity. The ability of an observer to resolve fine pattern detail. Acuity is usually specified in terms of decimal acuity, defined as the reciprocal of the smallest resolvable pattern detail in minutes of arc of visual angle. "Normal" or average acuity is considered to be 1.0 (a resolution of 1-min arc). arrow up back to top

Visual clear (VC) zone. Used with interchange/ramp entry models, this refers to the zone that provides a buffer between the driver and the end of the acceleration lane, where the driver can either merge onto the freeway in a forced maneuver or abort the merge and begin to decelerate at a reasonable rate. arrow up back to top

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