Variable Message Signs

A variable (VMS), also referred to as changeable, electronic, or dynamic message signs are programmable signs used on highways throughout the US. These signs provide drivers with information relating to traffic updates, roadwork warnings, traffic crashes, and other traffic and safety-related information. Today there are numerous states that use this technology as an expansion of their public awareness program. This study has the potential to address several questions including: which states display safety and public service announcement (PSA) messages on VMS, how are messages selected, 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 implementation of this practice? Ultimately providing answers to these questions will help guide State Highway Safety Offices in identifying best practices and maximizing the use of variable message signs to enhance awareness of safety messages and potentially alter driver behavior. The objective of this research is to summarize the current state of the practice, best practices, process and procedures, and barriers to implementation of putting safety messages and public service announcements on variable message signs.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • 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

  • Start Date: 20171219
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • 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