Motorist Understanding of Alternative Displays for Speed Limits in Work Zones Academic Article uri icon


  • In Texas, speed limits for short-term work zones are reduced speed limits that are posted only when work activity is present. When work activity is not present, the reduced speed limit signs are to be removed or covered; the legal speed limit for that segment reverts to the normal zone speed limit. The major challenge of speed limits for short-term work zones is the daily process of installing and removing, or uncovering and covering, signs. In this study, researchers conducted a laptop-based laboratory survey to determine (a) motorists' understanding and opinions of alternative short-term signs for speed limits in work zones and the enforceability of limits, (b) the success of the orange or white light-emitting diode (LED) color used on electronic speed limit (ESL) signs and portable changeable message signs (PCMSs) in indicating to motorists that they were advisory or regulatory signs, and (c) motorists' preference for short-term speed limit displays. The four categories of signs included in the survey were static work zone signs, ESL signs, speed limits displayed on PCMSs, and Your Speed signs (distracters). On the basis of the results obtained from this survey, researchers recommend the use of ESL signs and flexible roll-up signs for speed limits in static work zones for displaying speed limits in short-term work zones. To ensure that the speed limit displayed on ESL signs is considered a regulatory speed limit, the changeable display should be composed of white LEDs.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Trout, N. D., Finley, M. D., & Ullman, G. L.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Trout, Nada D||Finley, Melisa D||Ullman, Gerald L

publication date

  • January 2010