Variable Message Signs for road tunnel emergency evacuations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper investigates the design of Variable Message Signs (VMS) as a way-finding aid for road tunnel emergency evacuations. The use of the Theory of Affordances is suggested to provide recommendations on the design of VMS. A preliminary evaluation of 11 selected VMS systems was performed and 6 of them were further evaluated using an affordance-based within subject stated-preference questionnaire administered to a sample of 62 participants. Results are used to provide recommendations on the characteristics of the VMS systems, such as (1) size of the sign (large or small); (2) use of flashing lights; (3) colour scheme; (4) message coding (i.e., text, pictograms or a combination of them). The best performing VMS features for road tunnel emergency evacuation included the use of larger signs, flashing lights, the combination of emergency exit pictorial symbol in green in one panel and text in amber in the other panel.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Transport Systems and Logistics
  • Civil Engineering


  • System design, Notification, Way-finding, Theory of Affordances, Tunnel evacuation, Variable Message Sign, Emergency evacuation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-264
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch