On-Road Visual Sign Salience, Driver Attention Allocation, and Target Detection Accuracy Academic Article uri icon


  • Previous studies have empirically assessed the effect of on-road signage on driver distraction and attention allocation through eye-tracking measures and driving simulations. However, state and federal agencies might be able to make use of simpler approaches to determining the potential visual load of on-road signs. This study compared different on-road signage (food, gas and attraction, and distance guide signs) with respect to visual salience, assessed the effect of the number of panels and logo format on signage salience, and analyzed associations between salience values for different sign types with target detection accuracy and off-road glance duration. Visual salience of signs was measured with the salience using the natural statistics (SUNs) method. For correlation analyses between sign salience, attention allocation, and detection accuracy, a sample of 120 drivers participated in two driving simulation studies. Results revealed food business signs, containing all pictorial logos, to be more salient than gas and attraction and distance guide signs. In addition, results revealed that increasing the number of sign panels from six to nine significantly increased visual salience. It was also found that attraction signs including all pictorial logos were more salient than signs with text-based logos. Results did not reveal statistically significant relationships between visual salience and attention allocation. In addition, there was no significant correlation between target detection accuracy and visual salience for various sign types. Future work with a higher sign-sampling rate is needed to assess whether the SUNs method is a useful measure for determining if roadway sign salience is a driving factor in distraction.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Zahabi, M., Pankok, C. J., Kaber, D. B., Machado, P., Lau, M. Y., Hummer, J. E., & Rasdorf, W.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Zahabi, Maryam||Pankok, Carl Jr||Kaber, David B||Machado, Patricia||Lau, Mei Ying||Hummer, Joseph E||Rasdorf, William

publication date

  • January 2017