Guide for Behavioral Traffic Safety Messaging on Variable Message Signs

Variable message signs (VMS), also referred to as changeable, electronic, or dynamic message signs, are programmable signs used on highways throughout the United States. These signs provide drivers with information relating to traffic updates, roadwork warnings, traffic crashes, and other traffic and safety-related information. These signs have been in use since the early 1950s. Behavioral traffic safety messages (e.g., “Don’t Drink and Drive”, “Click It or Ticket”) were first displayed on VMS in 2009-10. Tennessee was one of the first states to use VMS to show the number of roadway fatalities. Currently many states use this technology to support their public awareness programs. Several studies investigated the usefulness and effectiveness of VMS safety messages, in particular, how the messages influence driver behavior, how attentive the public is to the message, and ways agencies could optimize safety messages on VMS. However, there are several unanswered questions about this practice, including: Which states display behavioral safety messages on VMS? What messages are currently being used? When and where are the messages displayed? What administrative policies and procedures regulate this initiative? And, what are the barriers hampering optimal use of this practice? The objective of this research is to develop a guide for the use of variable message signs (VMS) to deliver behavioral traffic safety announcements.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $350000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project BTS-02

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Governors Highway Safety Association

    444 N. Capitol Street, NW, Suite 722
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, D.C.  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Rogers, William

  • Performing Organizations:

    Texas A&M Transportation Institute, College Station

    Texas A&M University System
    3135 TAMU
    College Station, TX  United States  77843-3135
  • Principal Investigators:

    Ullman, Gerald

  • Start Date: 20181128
  • Expected Completion Date: 20211231
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01654282
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project BTS-02
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Dec 18 2017 3:03PM