A Virtual Reality experiment on the design of flashing lights at emergency exit portals for road tunnel evacuations

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A virtual reality (VR) experiment with 96 participants was carried out in a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) laboratory at Lund University to provide recommendations on the design of flashing lights at emergency exit portals for road tunnel emergency evacuation. A set of variables were investigated, namely 1) Colour of flashing lights, 2) Flashing rate, 3) The type of light source, 4) The number and layout of the lights on the portal (1 light on top of the exit door, 3 lights of which 1 on top and 2 on the sides of the exit door, or 2 bars on the sides of the exit door). An additional portal design variable has also been investigated, i.e. 5) The use of a window vs a painted running man on the exit door. Participants were immersed in a VR road tunnel emergency evacuation scenario and they were then asked to rank different portal designs using a questionnaire based on the Theory of Affordances. Results show that green or white flashing lights perform better than blue lights in the emergency exit portals. Flashing rate of 1 Hz and 4 Hz performed better than flashing rates of 0.25 Hz. A LED light source performed better than single and double strobe lights. Although the three layouts of the lights under consideration performed similarly, the use of a higher number of lights is deemed to be beneficial. If the door is visible, i.e., if no smoke is taken into consideration in the emergency scenario, the scenario with the running man painted on the door provides equal results compared to a door with a window. Nevertheless, the use of the window is recommended since it allows seeing behind the door, including the possibility to see the traffic in the opposite tunnel tube, and reduce people’s hesitation.


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FörlagDepartment of Fire Safety Engineering and Systems Safety, Lund University
Antal sidor31
StatusPublished - 2015




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