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

Skip to content
Facebook iconYouTube iconTwitter iconFlickr iconLinkedInInstagram

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-HRT-04-135
Date: December 2005

Enhanced Night Visibility, Volume IV: Phase II—Study 2: Visual Performance During Nighttime Driving in Rain

PDF Version (1.61 MB)

PDF files can be viewed with the Acrobat® Reader®


ENV-Objects Protocol for Onroad Experimenters—Rain

  1. General Policies

    The primary goal of this research effort is safety. For that reason, you need to be safe at all times.
    • Drive in a safe manner at all times. This means observing the 25 miles per hour speed limit on the road.
    • Use a spotter when moving vehicles in and out of the garage.
    • Wear closed-toe shoes at all times.
    • Wear dark clothes and dark shoes.
    • Always wear your vest on the road.
    • Do not travel with the tailgate open.
    • Wear your safety glasses whenever you are exposed to headlamps.
    • Always drive with your lights on.
    • If it’s broken, tell someone.
    • Attend the nightly meeting.

    Over the course of the study, it is likely that apparatus will break. If you notice something is broken or you are the one who broke it, tell (name of experimenter in charge) immediately if it is crucial to the study, or as soon as it is convenient if it is not crucial. At any rate, you must report such damage before you leave from your shift.

    Each night, you will need to arrive to the [contractor facility] on time. The nightly meeting will cover topics such as protocol changes, problems from the previous night, and schedule concerns. Make sure you document any problems from the previous night and make a note of them on the message board.

    Operation of the headlamps is outlined with a diagram and description in each vehicle. Failure to follow the procedures will prevent the headlamps from working, and therefore leave gaps in the data. For this reason, you are to review the operations each night for your assigned vehicle.

    While the study is being conducted, radio communications on channel 3 need to be minimized (emergencies excluded). If, however, you have a question, first address it to another onroad experimenter on channel 2. On channel 2 you can speak freely. If none of the onroad experimenters can answer the question one of you will need to address it to the in-vehicle experimenters. Note that the in-vehicle experimenters cannot always respond to questions if they are interacting with the participant at that time. For this reason, you will need to give the in-vehicle experimenters extra time.

  2. Pre-Experiment

    • Nightly meeting.
    • Car prep sheets need to be picked up in the prep room.
    • Participant measurement sheets will be distributed by the in-vehicle experimenter (if needed) during the meeting of night 2.
    • Valets are in charge of signing out radios for all of the onroad and in-vehicle experimenters. Each onroad experimenter is to have two radios for themselves, except for the valets, who will have one each. (One valet will keep radio on channel 2. The other valet will keep radio on channel 3. The valets need to communicate with each other about necessary information received on each channel. This way, no communications will be missed by either valet).
    • Valets need to get vests for all the onroad experimenters.
    • Experimenters assigned to the four onroad stations are each required to prepare a vehicle. They need to perform the tasks listed on the individual vehicle checklists. All items on the checklist must be completed. Make sure you know which session (night 1 or night 2) is to be completed that night. This way you will know which vehicles are needed at the front of the [contractor building] for the participants. You must sign off on the sheet at the end of the night.
    • Valets are responsible for making sure that the onroad experimenters have everything in the blue boxes that they need. They are also expected to load the specified equipment into the proper vehicles.
    • Put on vests.
    • Load two fluorescent large bikes, two kid’s bikes, and two tire treads into the pickup.
    • Load boxes, cones, and tarps into the SUVs.
    • Make sure that there is a tarp over the back seat of the SUV to protect it.
    • Set up parking spaces by putting out the cones at the appropriate locations (SUVs).
    • Set up cone at second turnaround (SUVs).
    • Make sure all cones and/or objects on the road that are not part of the night visibility study are removed from the road.
    • Cover up the “Road Closed” signs at the end of the road (SUVs).
    • Unload large bikes, kid’s bikes, and tire treads at each station (pickup).
    • Unload boxes at each station (SUVs).
    • Each night two people will be assigned one of the following locations:
      • Station 1, 4
      • Station 2, 3
      • One experimenter will wear white scrubs; the other will where black scrubs.

      Valets will be responsible for making sure everyone has a complete set of equipment, including the following:

    • Storage container with black and white scrubs, flashlight, safety glasses, RAIN order sheets, etc.
    • Tire tread.
    • Small bicycle.
    • Two radios. (One radio will be left on channel 3 to communicate with in-vehicle experimenters. The other radio will be left on channel 2 to communicate among onroad experimenters.)
    • Large fluorescent bike.

      Once you have the equipment at your station, DOUBLE CHECK to make sure you have all of the necessary items. Also, make sure one of your radios is set to channel 3, and either hold it or attach it to your clothing. Leave your other radio on channel 2 on the ground beside your station. Radios are to be worn at all times, even when transporting bicycles.

      Radios are only to be used for communicating information pertaining to the experiment. There is to be no communication about procedure on channel 3 unless there is a deviation from the usual protocol. All onroad experimenters are expected to know the protocol without confirmation from others. However, you may radio other onroad experimenters for assistance at any time on channel 2.

      There will be a relay at station 2 to repeat any messages not heard by geographically opposite stations. Station 2 will be responsible for relaying for the second car when the first car notifies that they are at the second turnaround.

      If there is an emergency, you are to get on the radio IMMEDIATELY and contact the relay station experimenter. The relay station experimenter will make sure the in-vehicle experimenters heard the message.

      As the trials progress, you will need to make sure the objects are out before the experimental vehicle gets to your station and cleared before the vehicle comes back up the road. You also need to make sure all objects (including yourselves) are hidden. To ensure least visibility, you need to wear dark clothing on the side of the road as much as possible.

      If a given run needs to be repeated, confirm your object with station 2.

  3. Objects Protocol

    On the first night, drivers will be oriented to the road by driving up the hill. During this time, onroad experimenters are to remain hidden. However, on the way down the hill, the following stations will need to put out objects:

    Station 4 White Static Pedestrian
    Station 5 Tire Tread

    We are assuming that all stations are ready, so we are not waiting for the stations to say that they are ready. The in-vehicle experimenter will just go as soon as the other vehicle arrives at the turnaround. Below is a table of the objects along with placement locations.

    Parallel pedestrian in black clothing Shoulder side of white line. Wear black clothing. Walk 10 paces along the middle of the lane toward oncoming vehicle, then walk backward 10 paces. Repeat.
    Parallel pedestrian in white clothing Shoulder side of white line. Wear white clothing. Walk 10 paces along the middle of the lane toward oncoming vehicle, then walk backward 10 paces. Repeat.
    Perpendicular pedestrian in black clothing Straight (perpendicular) line between white line and centerline. Wear black clothing. Walk from center of one lane to the center of the other lane and then walk backward to the white line (not the end of the shoulder). Repeat.
    Perpendicular pedestrian in white clothing Straight (perpendicular) line between white line and centerline. Wear white clothing. Walk from center of one lane to center of the other lane and then walk backward to the white line (not the end of the shoulder). Repeat.
    Cyclist in white clothing Between white lines in front of station Wear white clothing. Ride bike in circles across the road staying inside the white lines (do not go all the way out to the shoulder).
    Tire tread Centered on white line. None.
    Kid’s bicycle Centered across white line, one wheel on either side of white line. Lay on one side, wheels facing approaching traffic, handlebars lane of oncoming traffic.

    • After the first lap, onroad experimenters are to begin putting out objects as indicated on object order sheets. The in-vehicle experimenters will indicate when the object trials begin.
    • There will not be a practice or orientation run when a driver is here for their second night. VES order sheets will reflect this.
    • Set up so that the first object needed is readily accessible.
    • Hide all objects from view of the participants when not being used.
    • Put safety glasses on.
    • If you are wearing white shoes and/or shoes with reflective fabric, cover your shoes with the provided shoe covers.
    • SAFETY NOTE: Experimental vehicles are not to come within 50 feet of a mobile object on the roadway. That is especially true for all pedestrians and bicyclists. It is primarily your responsibility to make sure you move off the road at that distance, as in-vehicle experimenters will be primarily concerned with the participants. As a guideline, motion sensors will be placed 50 feet from your station. Also, the in-vehicle experimenters will ask you to clear once they have detected you. In that case, you can clear as soon as you hear “station X clear.” However, you cannot rely on that and you MUST clear at a safe distance.
    • After you step off the road, maintain your position on the white line. This will allow the in-vehicle experimenters to record the distances of detection and recognition on the distance measuring devices.
    • This methodology will be repeated for all six headlamp configurations. If there will be two sessions that night, the pickup will drive around and collect the onroad experimenters to provide a break. You will return to the road after your break and set up for the second session that will begin shortly. If there is only one session that night, the pickup truck will drive around and collect all experimenters and objects after the sixth configuration.
    • If you notice any problems or mistakes occurring during the night, record them on the vehicle preparation sheets.

  4. Valet (see “Valet Protocol” for more details)

    • Each valet has to get their valet box that contains measurement materials if measurements need to be taken.
    • Take care of all the radios, object orders, and materials. This includes changing out the radio batteries during the break on evenings when we run doubles.
    • As a valet, you will be assigned and responsible for one participant each session. Once you have a participant, you should stay with them the entire night.
    • Overall goal is to make participant feel as comfortable as possible in each car.
    • Be sure to be wearing a vest at all time.
    • Valets need to explain to the participants where to turn off the parking lights when they are at the second turnaround and how to work the windshield wipers.
    • NIGHT ONE: After the participants have completed their practice lap and first VES, show them to their next vehicle (sedan or black SUV).
    • NIGHT TWO: Meet participants at first vehicle and take measurements if necessary. Escort participants between vehicles as listed on the valet order sheets and be sure to take measurements on all four vehicles.
    • Whenever possible, the first driver that returns to the bottom of the hill should have their next vehicle waiting for them at the foremost parking spot. Valets will need to look at the VES order sheet to determine which vehicles should be parked in each parking spot to ensure that the drivers’ wait time is minimized.

  5. Repeat Procedures (Night 2)

    All procedures will repeat as described above. Therefore, you will need to get into the appropriate object position. There will be no practice laps for the second session.

  6. Ending Protocol

    Gather all experimental equipment and return to the [contractor facility]. The pickup driver will be responsible for picking up large bikes, kid’s bikes, and tire treads. SUVs will be responsible for picking up boxes, cones, and tarps. At the end of each night, there will be a list of items for you to complete (see below). After the items are checked, you will be free to leave.

    • Collect cone from the second turnaround (SUVs).
    • Uncover the signs at the bottom of the road (SUVs).
    • Collect the parking cones from the first turnaround (SUVs).
    • Return the vehicles to the [contractor facility].
    • Check the gas level of each vehicle. If it is below one quarter of a tank, write a note at end of prep sheet.
    • Return SUVs to the garage.
    • Note any vehicle problems on the vehicle preparation sheets, and then write them down on the message board.
    • Return the radios (personal and in-vehicle).
    • Put wet scrubs on racks to dry.
    • Sign radios back in. Make sure all radios that have been checked out are returned at the end of the night.
    • Make sure the power is off when you put the radios into the charger.
    • Submit paperwork to the in-vehicle experimenter.


Previous    Table of Contents    Next
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