Considering Conspicuity for North Carolina Department of Transportation Light Trucks

In 2014 the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) vehicle purchasing guidelines changed. Prior to the change, each new light truck received a custom bright yellow paint job before going into service. While this alteration helped NCDOT vehicles stand out, over time, the cost proved to be prohibitive. Currently, new vehicles are shipped to NCDOT in the factory standard white color. This change has raised some concerns about vehicle conspicuity, or the vehicle's ability to draw attention to itself. The proposed work will address concerns about the speed and accuracy with which NCDOT vehicles can be identified by the public in an effort to minimize accidents that can occur due to misidentification. The project will be carried out in three phases. First, incident reports from NCDOT's safety offices that involve collisions with NCDOT vehicles will be collected and analyzed to determine if any of the vehicle's visual attributes contribute to a statistically significant difference in incident frequency. In this phase the public will also be surveyed to gain insight into their opinions of current NCDOT vehicle designs. Phase 2 will focus on developing a marking pattern that will grant vehicles a high level of conspicuity. Preliminary findings from NCDOT personnel have suggested that the impact of color and pattern choice is not as significant as uniformity and reflectiveness. A structured experiment will be conducted to verify these findings. Driving simulations will be used to place study participants in the role of a motorist driving alongside both pedestrian and NCDOT vehicles. The NCDOT vehicles will be rendered with variety of alternative marking patterns. Study participants will indicate when they identify NCDOT vehicles. Speed and accuracy will be used to judge the effectiveness of the designs. In Phase 3, top performing designs will be reexamined under simulated hazard conditions such as driving at night or while distracted. Taken together, the findings from this work will lead to design recommendations for improved vehicle conspicuity and eventually, safer conditions for the public and NCDOT employees.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $102675
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    North Carolina Department of Transportation

    Research and Development
    1549 Mail Service Center
    Raleigh, NC  United States  27699-1549
  • Managing Organizations:

    North Carolina Department of Transportation

    Research and Development
    1549 Mail Service Center
    Raleigh, NC  United States  27699-1549
  • Project Managers:

    Penny, Lisa

  • Performing Organizations:

    East Carolina University

    Department of Engineering
    Greenville, North Carolina  United States  27858-4353
  • Principal Investigators:

    Sylcott, Brian

  • Start Date: 20190801
  • Expected Completion Date: 20210731
  • Actual Completion Date: 20220731
  • Source Data: 2020-33

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01724948
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: North Carolina Department of Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: FHWA/NC/2020-33
  • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Dec 11 2019 3:54PM