Driver perceptions and sources of user dissatisfaction in the implementation of variable speed limit systems

Suzanna Long, Lance Gentry, Ghulam H. Bham
2012 Transport Policy  
38 This research explores technical innovation and the impact of resistance to innovation in the 39 implementation of an active traffic management system. Technology-driven change initiatives 40 are often difficult to implement and failure rates are high. Lack of success is often linked to 41 failures in understanding the change environment or failure to account for human factors in the 42 implementation of a new technology. This study explores stakeholder perceptions in the 43 implementation
more » ... a variable speed limit (VSL) system in St. Louis, Missouri. Survey data from 44 the driving public and law enforcement officials were analyzed during the first two years the 45 VSL system was operational. High levels of dissatisfaction were present in survey results and 46 indicated significant levels of resistance to innovation. Change management theory was used to 47 link sources of dissatisfaction to common resistance factors. This provides an opportunity to 48 develop strategies for the successful implementation of innovative traffic management systems. 49 Decision makers involved with active traffic management will benefit from an understanding of 50 the pervasive nature of resistance to innovation and an awareness of strategies for designing 51 change management processes in innovative traffic systems. 52 53 Key Words: variable speed limit system, change management, resistance to innovation, 54 intelligent transportation systems, active traffic management system 55 56 57 2 TRB 2014 Annual Meeting Paper revised from original submittal. 58 This research investigates driver perceptions, sources of user dissatisfaction, and resistance to the 59 implementation of an innovative traffic management system in St. Louis, Missouri. The study is 60 part of a larger evaluation study of the effectiveness of Variable Speed Limit system (VSL), an 61 Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) commissioned by the Missouri Department of 62 Transportation (MoDOT). The benefits of ITS have been quantified in the literature (e.g., 1-4); 63 however, user rejection or dissatisfaction in the deployment of new technology has not been 64 studied. This research addresses this gap in the literature through a study of sample drivers from 65 the Midwestern United States. Change management theory is used to link sources of 66 dissatisfaction to common resistance factors and develop strategies for the successful 67 implementation of innovative traffic management systems. The results from this study will 68 provide transportation managers with an understanding of the nature of resistance to innovation 69 and will provide strategies for designing change management processes into innovative traffic 70 systems. 71 72 Overview of Variable Speed Limit Systems 73 VSL systems are designed to adjust the speed limit along a stretch of roadway as traffic 74 conditions change. Widely employed in Germany, UK, and other parts of the European Union, 75 VSLs have been used in the United States for several years on a limited basis. Multi-year 76 evaluation of the VSL systems in Europe show a marked reduction in the number and severity of 77 crashes (1) and are effective in a variety of roadway conditions ranging from the German 78 autobahn (2) to the intersection of a highway with a secondary road in Finland (5) . 79 Computer models suggest that the VSL system should be effective in reducing congestion 80 in the United States as well (3, 4). Models developed indicate that, when implemented in a work 81 zone, VSL can improve traffic flow (6) and greatly improve the effectiveness of ramp metering 82 (7). However, gaps usually exist between computer predictions and implementation. 83 A study of a VSL system in a work zone in Michigan indicated only minor impacts on 84 traffic flow, but did show a slightly higher average speed through the work zone when the VSL 85 system was operational (8). It is difficult to generalize from one experiment, but Lyles et al. 86 found that the results of a VSL in a work zone, while positive, were much less than predicted by 87 simulation. 88 In reviewing the literature on the VSL system, no articles were found that discussed how 89 drivers and other stakeholders felt about the concept or its implementation. Because cultures 90 vary and U.S. drivers may react differently from European drivers, this facet should not be 91 overlooked. Our study addresses this gap in the literature with a U.S. sample of drivers. 92 93 VSL System Performance 94 MoDOT installed a series of networked sensors along the I-270/I-255 corridor to evaluate the 95 traffic conditions as part of the pre-planning efforts for the deployment of a VSL system. These 96 sensors collected traffic variables such as speed, flow and occupancy at 30-second intervals. The 97 data provided by these sensors were used to develop variable speed limit protocols designed to 98 improve traffic safety and throughput. An extensive publicity campaign utilizing press releases, 99 press conferences, updates to MoDOT websites, email updates to local subscribers, Twitter 100 "tweets", and YouTube videos was initiated prior to installation of the VSL in an attempt to 101 inform people about how variable speed limits worked and the expected benefits (9). These 102 efforts were aimed at the driving public and law enforcement officials in the metropolitan area. 103
doi:10.1016/j.tranpol.2012.05.007 fatcat:kjq5hilfcbfhnfhqwkumfinfp4