The purpose of Human Factors research is to further the understanding of highway user needs so that those needs can be incorporated in roadway design, construction, repair, and improvement. All of FHWA's strategies for improving safety and enhancing operations throughout the highway transportation system benefit from the appropriate consideration of user needs. Human factors studies consider driver, pedestrian and special user needs and capabilities and how each of these impacts safety and informs better roadway design.
Human factors research is a cross–cutting field supporting projects in other research focus areas. Human factors researchers routinely provide the fundamental investigations for projects considering traffic control device effectiveness, novel intersection designs, pedestrian & bicyclist safety, and visibility studies.
Human factors research conducted by TFHRC covers a range of topics, including visual attention to traffic control devices and distraction sources external to the vehicle, improving road signs and other traffic control devices for legibility, conspicuity, and comprehension, pedestrian safety, traffic management center design, advanced driving simulation, and intersection design.