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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-16-060    Date:  November 2018
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-16-060
Date: November 2018


Human Factors Guidelines for Transportation Management Centers

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Transportation management centers (TMCs) are complex environments with regular changes in technology, and they apply concomitant demands on TMC operators and designers to stay current. Rapid changes in TMCs create the need for guidance that is current, clear, practical, and easy to use. Human factors guidelines tailored to TMCs are necessary to prevent TMC staff from neglecting human factors considerations, developing inaccurate and biased guidelines internally, making false assumptions regarding operators/drivers, and incorrectly applying human factors guidelines from other domains. An efficient, safe, and successful TMC depends on how humans interact with the variety of technology and information in the environment. This report brings together comprehensive, state-of-the-art information on human factors aspects in TMCs in a format that is readily usable by TMC personnel.

The goal of this report is to provide a flexible, powerful, clear, and easy-to-use guide for any practitioners involved in planned or existing TMCs, using the needs of the end user as a guiding principle. As such, practitioners and organizations interested in developing, evaluating, or modifying their TMCs would benefit from reading this report.

James S. Pol, P.E., PMP
Acting Director, Office of Safety


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation 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.


Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No.


3 Recipient's Catalog No.


4. Title and Subtitle

Human Factors Guidelines for Transportation Management Centers

5. Report Date

November 2018

6. Performing Organization Code


7. Author(s)

Emanuel Robinson, Daniela Barragan, Doug Dembowski, Todd Szymkowski, Sheryl Miller, Gary Golembiewski, and Sonia Ferezan

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


Lakeside Engineers
16745 West Bluemound Road, #140
Brookfield, WI 53005


Excalibur Associates, Inc.
700 North Fairfax Street, Suite 500
Alexandria, VA 22314

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)


11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20590

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Technical Report; May 2011–June 2017

14. Sponsoring Agency Code


15. Supplementary Notes

The Transportation Management Center Pooled Fund Study Program Manager was Jimmy Chu (HOTM). The Government Technical Monitor was Brian Philips (HRDS-30).

16. Abstract

Transportation management centers (TMCs) have traditionally served as the real-time interface between motorists and transportation agencies. Their mission has broadened to encompass a variety of goals and management approaches. This document presents a set of human factors guidelines to be used by organizations interested in developing, evaluating, or modifying their TMCs. The guidelines herein provide human factors considerations based on empirical research, meta-analyses, usability testing, and standards to create the optimal work environment for TMC operators, managers, and supervisors in attempts to improve decisionmaking and mitigate human errors. The goal is to provide human factors guidelines that will bring together comprehensive, state-of-the-art information on human factors aspects in TMCs in a format that will be readily usable to a wide range of practitioners.


This report is divided into several chapters, each focused on a particular type of human factors issue within the TMC. The first chapter begins with the TMC operator, describing an operator’s strengths, limitations, and biases when interfacing with technology. Next, chapter 2 describes how operators interact with automated systems, including issues of staying in the loop, trust in system automation, and monitoring. Chapter 3 provides an overview of TMC infrastructure, physical layout, organizational structure, workflow, and how the locations of TMC elements (onsite or offsite) affect performance. Next, chapter 4 describes the systems and tools used within a TMC. Finally, chapter 5 includes information about communications with the public, colleagues, and agencies and addresses content and delivery mechanisms for messages along with recommendations for facilitating communication across organizations.

17. Key Words

Transportation management centers, TMC, Human factors

18. Distribution Statement

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

19. Security Classification
(of this report)


20. Security Classification
(of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price


Form DOT F 1700.7 Reproduction of completed page authorized




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