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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





CVO's include any motor vehicle of public or private ownership, regularly used to carry freight and passengers, used in commerce, or used to provide emergency response.

Functional areas that are currently being addressed for ITS CVO applications include the following:

  • AVI.
  • WIM.
  • Automatic Vehicle Classification (AVC).
  • Electronic Placarding/Bill of Lading (EP).
  • AVL.
  • Two–way Real–time Communication (TWC).
  • Automatic Clearance Sensing (ACS).
  • ADIS.
  • On–board Computing (OBC).

These areas are being addressed to achieve three basic goals: (1) improved productivity; (2) improved efficiency and effectiveness of traffic management and administration by transit agencies, State, and local governments; and (3) improved safety for CVO's and others affected by them. The key technologies to improve local CVO are ADIS (similar in concept and functionality to ATIS) and TWC because of the increased productivity from real–time traffic routing and schedule information they will provide. Improvement of interstate operations requires AVI and use of the OBC concept to monitor vehicle systems and serve as an interface for communication between a vehicle system and external sources.

In general, ITS technologies are emerging as the key tools that carriers have available to reduce costs and improve productivity. New ITS technologies are making faster dispatching, fuel–efficient routing, and more timely pick–ups and deliveries possible. These ITS technologies will also have an impact on safety. Devices such as blind–side and near–obstacle detection systems can make highways safer and more productive. The cost to regulate CVO's can also be reduced with the use of AVI and WIM scales.

There are several special considerations that must be made when addressing ITS technologies and CVO's. These considerations include the following:

  • Not all roadways are accessible to CVO's for reasons such as restrictive geometry and substandard bridges. Trucks carrying hazardous materials are also restricted to certain roadway use. Therefore, these vehicles must have accurate, detailed information about any proposed alternatives to the routes they normally travel. They will also require standardized electronic map data bases capable of covering the entire Nation.

  • Equipment and communications standards are important to CVO's. For example, they must be able to access all tune–in traffic information broadcasts without having to carry several different kinds of radio receivers.

CVO research conducted to date focuses on three key technologies: AVI, displays, and communications. In general, as with automotive aspects of ATIS, CVO literature to date primarily includes planning and feasibility evaluations of proposed systems or projects.

One study that assessed promising areas of CVO research was a case study of trucking needs in Iowa (Midwest Transportation Center, 1992). Six of the "most promising" CVO applications are discussed in the Iowa study. Briefly, these applications are: (1) WIM using AVI, (2) pre–clearance for safety inspections, (3) "one–stop shopping" for regulatory compliance, (4) electronic toll and traffic management, (5) automated apportioned fuel tax administration, and (6) audits of apportioned fuel tax. Hazardous cargo identification and navigational aids are also promising.

Feasibility studies and assessments of specific AVI technologies have also been accomplished. Florida, in particular, is in the initiation phase of projects using AVI, WIM, and communications systems. Two Florida DOT reports describing these assessments are Assessment of Benefits of Advantage I–75 (Center for Urban Transportation Research, 1992), and Analysis of AVI Technology and Its Potential Application to Florida's Turnpike Summary (Center for Urban Transportation, 1992).

Displays are a major focus addressed in CVO assessment papers. A general assumption is that any in–cab device diverts valuable attention from the road and should be accepted with critical consideration of the safety impact. An internal memo from FHWA summarizes the weakening of the 1952 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations on the location of a video display terminal (VDT) in the cab. These regulatory findings bode well for future use of in–cab displays. Another study inventoried over 50 supplemental in–cab devices (Burger, Smith, and Ziedman, 1989). Six categories of systems were discussed:

  • Single/integrated displays.
  • Vehicle information.
  • Vehicle navigation.
  • Vehicle positioning.
  • Text communication.
  • Vehicle safety.

Burger estimates that a broad proliferation of these devices could pose a significant safety problem. Plans to model current truck driver workload are presented as key to the safety evaluation of future systems.

Communication systems are also of significant interest for CVO applications. The University of Pennsylvania is conducting communication research on interdisciplinary topics ranging from signal bandwidth to artificial intelligence. A review of applicability of Advanced Vehicle Monitoring and Communications (AVMC) systems for bus transit has been done by the U.S. DOT. AVMC systems are projected to be cost–effective from both agency and passenger satisfaction vantage points. A method of AVMC feasibility evaluation is presented as part of the DOT report.

Evaluations of Existing CVO Systems

CVO Operational Field Tests


Evaluations of Existing CVO Systems

In general, existing systems fall into the categories of AVI and related systems, WIM, and dispatching and routing navigation. A substantial review of existing AVI/AVL and WIM technologies is provided in the Florida DOT studies referenced in the preceding paragraphs. Two additional reports, Nakamura, Inoue, and Kanasaki (1984) and the Texas Transportation Institute (1989), also describe AVI and WIM issues and technologies. These reports, however, contain little information of direct interest to human factors design, particularly with respect to in–vehicle systems.

Several dispatching and routing navigation systems are in existence for CVO applications. A report by French (1987) summarizes various fleet management technologies, such as Loran–C AVL, Geostar Positioning, ETAK's Dispatch System, and Routeware's ARCS system (no longer in use). Most system designs are centered around ETAK's Navigator data base technology and have an ETAK–style user interface. The utility of vehicle navigation systems and an interface design using the ETAK Navigator for fleet management applications have been described by Honey, White, and Zavoli (1987). Interface aspects are summarized below:

  • Destinations may be entered manually or received automatically from the dispatch center. The destination appears on the screen as a flashing star. Distance and direction are shown in case a map scale is chosen that does not include the destination. Status codes can be sent to the dispatch center at the press of a button; a hidden switch can be used as a mayday function for emergencies in the field.

  • The display is oriented "heading up" as the driver sees the road out the window.

  • Scale of the map is selectable from 0.2 to 64.4 km (1/8th mi to 40 mi).

  • The dispatcher unit uses different colors to represent different street priorities (e.g., freeway, residential, and arterial).

  • A mouse and on–screen menus are used on the dispatcher's station for map manipulation.

In addition to the interest in ITS technology for truck fleet applications, there has been some interest in public transit applications. A study by Morlok, Bruun, and Blackmon (1991) describes the usefulness of advanced monitoring and communication systems for bus transit. The authors list nine AVL technologies with potential transit applications. These technologies include:

  • Loran–C.
  • GPS.
  • Radio Data System (RDS).
  • Dead Reckoning.
  • Radio Signposts.
  • Passive ID.
  • Infrared Detection.
  • "Telerider."



CVO Operational Field Tests

"Advantage I–75" is the primary U.S. implementation of AVI. Over 3219 km (2000 mi) of roadway are encompassed by the Advantage network, including a stretch of HWY 401–20 in Canada from Montreal to Detroit. The I–75 portion ranges from Sault St. Marie, Michigan, to Miami, Florida.

The program testing data collection and WIM aspects of the Advantage project are called "HELP–Crescent." The States involved in research include Arizona, California, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, New York, and New Jersey. The implementation is taking place along a highway "crescent" in the western United States.

Crescent program

The Crescent program is designed to:

  • Evaluate one–stop shopping and transparent State borders to help reduce the number of required stops, and to use the OBC concept reporting capability to replace manual record keeping insofar as registration, fuel tax, and driver's hours–of–service requirements are concerned.

  • Show that the technology applications, i.e., WIM, AVC, AVI, and on–board data management, will work reliably from a system standpoint in the highway environment.

  • Demonstrate the potential for increased efficiency in governmental administration of selected motor carrier regulations and highway planning.

Crescent is expected to show that technology applications can be successfully combined into a system, institutional barriers can be minimized, and both commercial operations and public agencies can successfully share in the collection and use of data.


TRANSCOM (1991) is a coalition of transportation and traffic enforcement agencies in the New York–New Jersey region. These agencies conducted a study using CVO's working with 17 New York metropolitan area trucking companies from July 1989 to August 1991.

The study was conducted such that when an incident (e.g., accident or disabled vehicle) occurred, the affected agency would notify TRANSCOM. TRANSCOM sent messages concerning significant incidents to the affected CVO companies via pagers supplied as part of the project.






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