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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-16-059    Date:  November 2017
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-16-059
Date: November 2017


Travel Time Displays At Freeway Entrance Approaches

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Travel time information presented at key decision points such as freeway entrance approaches can be a powerful tool for operators and managers to better inform travelers. In turn, travelers can make better decisions and take proper actions based on this information. In addition to location of information, optimal presentation increases the likelihood that a traveler will utilize it properly.

The purpose of the project “Travel Time Displays at Freeway Entrance Approaches” was to explore the optimal ways to provide travel time information at freeway entrance approaches to drivers and to evaluate the influence of travel time information on their route choices and diversion behaviors. The studies presented in this report provide both laboratory and field insights into message format and location, as well as resulting behaviors by commuters. The intended target audiences for this report are transportation professionals involved in the management, planning, engineering, research design, and operations of traffic on freeway and arterial facilities. This includes managers, supervisors, planners, researchers, engineers, designers, and traffic operations staff.

It is hoped that the guidance distilled from these studies will help operators and managers provide better travel time information to the traveling public. Implementing the findings of this report will help transportation operations professionals provide more complete travel time information on roadway networks and allow users to make better route choices, thereby decreasing travel times and congestion.

Monique R. Evans, P.E., CPM
Director, Office of Safety
Research and Development


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers’ names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.


1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No.

3. Recipient’s Catalog No.

4. Title and Subtitle

Travel Time Displays at Freeway Entrance Approaches

5. Report Date

November 2017

6. Performing Organization Code:

7. Author(s)

Emanuel Robinson, Neil Lerner, Jeremiah Singer, Daniela Baragan, Kathryn Kulbicki, Janna Kline, and Daniel Kellman

8. Performing Organization Report No.

9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Leidos, Inc.
11951 Freedom Drive
Reston, VA 20190
1600 Research Boulevard
Rockville, MD 20850

10. Work Unit No.

11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Office of Safety Research and Development
Federal Highway Administration
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101-2296

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Final Report; February 2014–June 2017

14. Sponsoring Agency Code

15. Supplementary Notes

Government Task Manager: Brian Philips, 202-493-3468, Federal Highway Administration; Traffic Management Center Pooled Fund Study: Jimmy Chu, 202-366-3379, FHWA.

16. Abstract

The Federal Highway Administration as well as State and local agencies face the challenge of providing real-time travel time information to motorists in a manner that allows them to take full advantage of it. One factor contributing to the limited effects of current systems is that the travel time displays are not optimally located. The purpose of this project was to explore the best means of providing travel time information to drivers as they approach a freeway entrance and evaluate how this influenced route choice and diversion. The project consisted of two experimental tasks. The first task was a laboratory-based experiment in which participants were presented with scenarios and video of arterial travel time (ATT) displays and then were asked to provide ratings and to offer location recommendations. The second task was a field implementation over 11 weeks to investigate behavior, ratings, and use of both freeway and ATT information provided near a freeway entrance approach. Information was provided via a variable message sign and in-vehicle. A main outcome of both studies was a better understanding of optimal ways and preferred locations for presenting freeway and ATT information to commuters. Guidance and recommendations are provided.

17. Key Words

Changeable message signs (CMS), arterial travel time (ATT), intelligent transportation systems (ITS), traveler information, decisionmaking, human factors, travel behavior

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.


19. Security Classif. (of this report)


20. Security Classif. (of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price


Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed page authorized

SI* (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Abbreviations

ATT arterial travel time
CMS changeable message sign
FHWA Federal Highway Administration
FTT freeway travel time
GPS Global Positioning System
ITE Institute of Transportation Engineers
ITS intelligent transportation systems
MUTCD Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices
TMC Transportation Management Center
TRB Transportation Research Board
US-1N U.S. Route 1 North
VDOT Virginia Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101