Beijing Engineering Research Center of Urban Transportation Maintenance and Operations, College of Metropolitan Transportation, Beijing University of Technology, Beijing, 100124, PR China. Electronic address: [Email]
In response to developing and/or diminishing foggy conditions, the variable speed limit application in a connected vehicle environment (CV-VSL) can estimate and deliver recommended travel speeds to individual drivers, which can help to reduce crashes when visibility conditions change. This study aims to quantify the effectiveness of the CV-VSL application by exploring drivers' reactions to warnings (e.g., recommended travel speeds). In order to analyze the effectiveness of the CV-VSL application, a connected vehicle testing platform was established based on a driving simulator, and characteristics of the drivers' speed adjustments after receiving warnings were analyzed with respect to different levels of visibility (i.e., no fog, slight fog, and heavy fog). This study also examined the effect of warnings on drivers in different impact zones (i.e., clear zone, transition zone, and fog zone). Three indicators were identified: 1) speed at the end of the clear zone, 2) maximum deceleration rate in the transition zone, and 3) average speed reduction in the fog zone. Throughout the experiment, the relationship between speed adjustments and the level of visibility was explored. The results indicated that the CV-VSL application is effective in making drivers reduce travel speeds in all three types of zones. Furthermore, it appeared that the CV-VSL application could help manage travel speeds prior to vehicles entering the transition zone, and influence drivers' braking decisions upon encountering reduced visibility. It was also found that the CV-VSL application was more effective in heavy fog conditions than in light fog conditions. The connected vehicle testing platform based on the driving simulator provided a new method for evaluating the effectiveness of in-vehicle messaging generated by connected vehicle applications.