351 McCormick Dr.
P.O. Box 400742
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4742
Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization)
VDOT and localities in Virginia continue to alter the design of streets and the driver experience. New facilities, infrastructure, and signage are being installed to expand the state’s network of on-street bicycling options, accommodate and increase pedestrian visibility, and improve traffic through a range of traffic control devices, active traffic management scenarios, and even connected vehicle programs. Markings, signs, and regulations are being used that newly minted motorists would not have seen when preparing for an initial licensing exam. Even with updated traffic manuals, it is a challenge to educate existing licensed drivers about these new types of facilities, and the resulting confusion can lead to safety risks for all users. This project would accomplish two key objectives: (1) identify best practices for using existing and new approaches to driver education to improve knowledge and acceptance of new facilities being implemented by VDOT and Virginia localities, and (2) examine the impacts of education and habituation on road user knowledge, support, and use of new facilities. For this project we will coordinate with other VDOT projects considering new facilities or technologies, for example SORAC’s Downward Diagonal Yellow Arrow Lane Use Control Signal and TPRAC’s “Green Boxes” for Bicycles.
Task 1: Current Best Practices for New Street Facilities
This task would first identify a partner at DMV to collaboratively examine challenges in driver education for new facilities. A literature review would be conducted to examine practices in other states for driver education programs specific to new and emerging street facilities and design, and well as any evaluations of those programs. Interviews with other state DOTs could seek examples of collaboration/cooperation processes between a state’s DOT and the state agencies responsible for driver licensing and the driver education curriculum (in Virginia, the DMV and the Department of Education, respectively). The topic would also include examination of other approaches to making road users aware of new facilities, such as media-based campaigns and the use of social networks and information technologies.
Task 2: Impacts of Education and Habituation on Knowledge, Support, and Use of New Facilities
In addition to identifying best practices in driver education for new street facilities and operations, a survey of Virginia road users would evaluate the potential benefits of and need for new facility education programs. The survey would focus on locations where new bicycle or traffic control facilities and signage have recently been installed or are under consideration. Drivers would be asked key questions about their familiarity with these facilities and systems, how they have learned about them, their comfort levels, and their likelihood to use the facilities themselves. The survey would examine how knowledge and comfort changes over time as programs are implemented and infrastructure is installed, and the best role for driver education programs in the process of habituation. Locations within Virginia where new facilities are under consideration or have been installed would be good candidate locations for the survey, including Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, or a smaller city like Charlottesville where new practices are being introduced. However, other sites across Virginia could be considered or used for comparison, in consultation with VDOT staff.
Web Links to Reports and to the Project website
Final Report as submitted to VTRC in May, 2016: