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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-RD-95-153
Date: November 1996

Development of Human Factors Guidelines for Advanced Traveler Information Systems and Commercial Vehicle Operations: Literature Review









Significant advances in sensor, electronic, and microcomputing technology during the past decade have led to the feasibility of functionally powerful, computer–based automotive and commercial vehicle information systems. Stephens (1986) estimated that more than 40 such systems are currently under development worldwide. Although these systems differ in objective and functionality, they all serve as an aid for the driver. The collective feasibility of developing this family of functionally powerful devices for road transportation has led to the conceptualization of the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS).

ITS integrates the driver, vehicle, and the road to raise overall efficiency and driver safety. To this end, advanced technologies are being developed and applied. Specific areas addressed in this report are Advanced Traveler Information Systems (ATIS) and commercial vehicle operations (CVO). Note that the acronyms ATIS and ADIS (Advanced Driver Information Systems, mentioned in much of the ITS literature) are used to refer to the same systems.

ATIS is an important area for human factors and safety research. Both urban and rural travelers will be provided real–time information on traffic and road conditions, vehicle location and navigation, safety warnings, and a host of motorist services.

CVO's are vital to the movement of goods, as well as providing services such as bus transportation and medical emergency response. Commercial vehicles, public service vehicles, and passenger vehicles fall into the category of CVO. Just about any endeavor that has a fleet of road vehicles is considered a CVO. The economic backbone of the country relies on timely and reliable delivery of products. Using technologies of ITS, the national roadway shipping infrastructure will benefit greatly. Most CVO research focuses on the trucking industry. Key technologies in CVO research are Automatic Vehicle Identification (AVI), Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL), Weigh in Motion (WIM), and navigation.

The research status of ATIS applied to private vehicles and CVO is mixed. Both applications are relatively new, yet both already are involved in large–scale operational test programs. The Intelligent Vehicle–Highway Society of America, tasked with advising the government on the development of ITS in the United States, has outlined the development process of ITS over the next 20 years (Intelligent Vehicle Highway Society of America, 1992b). Several projects have advanced to the demonstration project stage, yet basic aspects of ITS are still being defined. In the near term (1992–1996) ITS research, development, and operational testing is planned (Intelligent Vehicle Highway Society of America, 1992b). An outline of the near–term strategic plan appears in the following paragraphs (Mammano and Baxter, 1990).

ATIS research and development (R&D) will focus on navigational software, map and services data bases, and communication alternatives. Operational testing is now occurring on navigation route planning AVI/AVL and information delivery modes.

CVO R&D for the near term will focus on WIM, electronic toll collection, driver warnings, and electronic record keeping. Operational testing is now under way for AVI/AVL, electronic credential checking, and electronic permitting.

ATIS will provide services to motorists in four useful areas:

  • Navigation.
  • Road and traffic information.
  • Roadside information.
  • Personal communications.

The first of these areas, ATIS navigation, will provide useful and timely information, including landmarks and street names. It will also provide the optimum route and display current vehicle location to orient the driver. The second functional area, road and traffic information service, will provide valuable insight into current and future driving conditions. Some examples of conditions that require notification and rerouting are construction detours, accidents, foul weather, and traffic jams. Alternate routes can be provided and new arrival times can be estimated using ATIS. The third function of ATIS is to provide roadside information. This information might include the location of the nearest gas station, or the ability to tour a city without sightseeing information. A last function of ATIS will be person–to–person communication. This feature allows the driver to make and receive calls, including those for emergencies. Both data and voice modes of communication will be possible. If a traffic jam delays a meeting, business associates can reschedule en route as well as communicate to a central office from remote areas.

While these systems promise to serve a valuable function, they represent a new frontier in the automotive industry. This frontier could be hazardous if it interferes with the driving task. This non–interference requirement, in conjunction with requirements imposed by the environment (e.g., glare, night driving, high ambient noise), the user population (e.g., elderly drivers, various education levels), limited training opportunities, and system constraints (e.g., cost) make these systems one of the greatest consumer product human factors challenges to date.

An initial step in meeting this challenge is the development of comprehensive and useful guidelines for designers. Development of such guidelines is the goal of this project. In developing these guidelines, existing guidelines and other information sources will be reviewed to determine their applicability to ATIS and CVO systems. It was the goal of Task A to review these guidelines and this information as described in this report.

General Literature Review Findings

The majority of the ITS literature produced to date contains descriptions of research plans and proposed frameworks for evaluation of systems. These papers are key to the initial "information" phase of the ITS development. Some reports have arisen from early operational tests, part of the "advisory" stage of ITS designed to demonstrate the feasibility of different systems (Intelligent Vehicle Highway Society of America, 1992b). However, many of the initial operational tests are still under way as of the writing of this report, and no empirical findings are available.

Many of the ITS sources contain information that can be applied to both ATIS and CVO. In addition, "safety" and "human factors" are raised as very important design issues in much of the ITS literature. However, relatively few documents discuss specific design guidelines or empirical results relating to safety and human factors of ATIS and CVO systems.

While much of the available literature will not directly aid in the development of human factors guidelines, there is a significant base of information to aid in guideline development. This information is detailed in the following sections.

Two sources of information of particular interest to this project are reports from the TravTek and University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) projects that are currently under way. Each of these projects is expected to generate considerable data concerning driver performance and behavior while using ATIS systems. Unfortunately, as of this report, no technical reports and little data specifying study results are available from either of these projects.





The purpose of Task A was to conduct a literature review of human factors–applicable articles associated with ATIS and ATIS–related CVO systems. Specifically, Task A was to assess existing human factors guidelines to determine their applicability to ATIS systems and identify research gaps that would be filled to establish complete and comprehensive ATIS guidelines. As with any literature review, the conduct of Task A was treated as a foundation for subsequent tasks. The duration of Task A (3 months) was such that some of the literature of interest could not be obtained prior to publication of this report. Thus, the literature review does not, in effect, end with this report. Many article inquiries and orders are being completed as of this writing. Thus, valuable project information will continue to arrive in the next several months.

This report serves as a strong basis for additional reviews in subsequent tasks. Task A was completed in seven subtasks. The first six of these subtasks constitute six exclusive bodies of literature that were reviewed. Thus, these six subtasks were accomplished concurrently during the completion of Task A. The seventh subtask (reporting) serves to tie the results of the previous six subtasks together with a summary report of the findings and their impact on the overall project.

Description of the Method Employed to Complete the Literature

The initial groundwork for the project included a mass mailing (over 500 letters) to solicit articles, reports, and information from public and private sector organizations and individuals; advertising at the Human Factors conference in Atlanta and in the November 1992 issue of the Human Factors Bulletin; and conduct of numerous data base searches. The computerized data bases searched included Psychlit, Cougalog, Uncover, Applied Science and Technology, Intelligent Vehicle Highway Society of America, National Technical Information Service (NTIS), Engineering Index, Dialogue, Silver Platter, and the University of Idaho's main data base. Articles were obtained from the following open literature sources:

  • Alcohol Drugs and Driving Abstracts and Review.
  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Transportation Journal.
  • Automotive Displays and Industrial Illumination.
  • Automotive Engineering.
  • Automotive Industries.
  • Aviation Week and Space Technology.
  • Cognitive Science.
  • Engineering Data Compendium.
  • Ergonomics.
  • Highway Research Record.
  • Human Factors.
  • Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) Transactions.
  • IEEE Vehicle Navigation and Information Systems Conference.
  • Information Technology Applications in Transport.
  • International Journal of Man-Machine Studies.
  • Institute of Transport Engineers (ITE) Compendium of Technical Papers.
  • ITE Journal.
  • Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis.
  • Journal of Applied Psychology.
  • Journal of Dynamics Systems.
  • Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences.
  • Journal of Studies on Alcohol.
  • Journal of the American Society of Information Science.
  • Journal of Transportation Engineering.
  • Mechanical Engineering.
  • Military Standards.
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Technical Paper Series.
  • Nissan Technology Newsline.
  • Perceptual and Motor Skills.
  • Planning and Technology.
  • Proceedings of Drive Conference.
  • Proceedings of Human Factors Society.
  • Proceedings of Institute of Mechanical Engineers.
  • Proceedings of International Technical Conference on Experimental Safety Vehicles.
  • Proceedings of ITS America.
  • Proceedings of the International Congress of Transportation Electronics.
  • Public Roads.
  • Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Technical Paper Series.
  • Safety News.
  • Technology in Society.
  • Technology Review.
  • The American Cartographer.
  • Toyota Technical Review.
  • Traffic Engineering and Control.
  • Traffic Safety.
  • Transportation.
  • Transportation Quarterly.
  • Transportation Research.
  • Transportation Research Board.
  • Transportation Research Record.
  • Vehicle Information Systems and Electronic Display Technology.
  • Vehicle Navigation and Information Systems Conference Proceedings (VNIS).
  • Vision in Vehicles.

In addition to computerized data base searches, three trips were taken to manually search through several libraries. One trip was taken to Seattle, Washington, to conduct a search at the University of Washington and Battelle. A second trip was taken to Detroit, Michigan, to conduct a search at UMTRI and General Motors. A third trip was taken to Washington, DC, to conduct a search at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Annotated bibliographies were generated for many of the articles collected as part of Task A. Due to time and resource constraints, annotations could not be completed for the 1000+ articles collected. Thus, the articles were prioritized based on the potential value for generating human factors guidelines. A copy of the annotations that were completed for this task–indexed by author, page number, and key words–appears as a supplement to the report working paper.





The specific goals of Task A were to:

  • Identify human factors research issues, hypotheses, empirical findings, principles, and guidelines applicable to ATIS/CVO systems.
  • Identify relevant documentation describing comparable system objectives, functions, configurations, and guidelines.
  • Identify present and likely near-term technological and cost constraints that will necessarily drive human factors-related ATIS/CVO issues.
  • Present the reviewed information in a format that is usable for the remainder of the project tasks.

To achieve these goals, the organization of this report includes sections and subsections that provide information of interest to task leaders. In addition, the two major products of Task A are provided separately as part of the Conclusions and Recommendations section of this report, they include:

  • Existing principles and guidelines of potential use.
  • Research gaps that will be filled to complete comprehensive and useful guidelines.

The specific organization of this content is summarized in Table 1.

Table 1. Organization of objectives within this report.

Report Section

Objectives Addressed


Description of ATIS/CVO system objectives, functions, and configurations

System/project description only


Review of ATIS/CVO empirical evaluations with human factors implications

Empirical findings


Comparable system empirical evaluations with ATIS/CVO human factors implications

Empirical findings


Review of emerging technology and its impact on ATIS/CVO systems and human factors design

Technological and cost constraints


Preliminary guideline summary

Existing principles and guidelines


Research issues, hypotheses, and experiments needed for guideline development

Gaps in existing research







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