The University of Southampton
Engineering

Research project: Human factors in the design of traffic management systems

Currently Active: 
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Traffic management is a crucial component of road networks around the world, enabling them to be more efficient, safe and environmentally friendly. This EngD project investigates the Human Factors issues found within traffic management systems, in particular those relating to the design of technical systems, with an aim of improving their performance.

Project Overview

Traffic Management Centres (TMCs) are used to optimise urban and inter-urban road network’s performance, aiming to maximise their efficiency and safety while minimising environmental impact. TMCs act as a central hub within the road network, collecting information from a wide range of social agents, making decisions regarding how best to manage the network and then implementing these decisions through tools such as information dissemination and the manipulation of infrastructure. TMCs are complex socio-technical systems, requiring significant interaction between human operators and multiple technical systems. For TMCs to work effectively it is crucial that these technical systems support operators as much as possible. To this end the project considers Human Factors within road traffic management.

A traffic management centre

To understand how TMCs work in reality observational studies were conducted at four urban TMCs, Bristol, Cardiff, Dorset and Nottingham. Each centre was modelled using a network’s approach, considering the tasks undertaken, social agents involved and information used as well as the interactions between these elements. To gain further insights each centre’s social structure is being tested to establish its resilience to failure. Information gained from this work will then be used to establish the design constraints and requirements for the technical systems in use within TMCs. Once these are known it will be possible to develop empirical studies to test existing and new solutions, with the findings used to guide the design of future traffic management systems.

Related research groups

Transportation Group

Staff

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