Motorized road traffic comprises a complex system that includes many different players whose goal is to convey road users safely and quickly. The observance of informal rules, communication between road users and predictions of others’ behavior are essential for this goal.
The most important elements in this process are eye contact between road users and body gestures. For example, pedestrians who want to cross the street use eye contact to ensure that a driver sees them. This helps prevent crashes and injuries.
In addition, the horn acts as an informal signal in some countries. This means that when a driver is merging, they might honk the horn in order to inform other road users of their intention.
These informal signals are especially important in busy traffic and in cities. This is because the distances between vehicles narrow and complexity increases, leading to more flexible cooperation between road users.
For this reason, it is important that communication between drivers can be improved in future, allowing for more efficient and comfortable lane changes. In the present study, we assessed the potential of two novel design approaches to enhance communication about (intended) lane changes: one allowed for separate information on intention and action via an adjusted turn-signal display and the other involved augmented reality head-up displays.
Both designs appeared to be effective in strengthening cooperative behavior and helping participants to distinguish between a request and an intention to initiate a lane change. They were also perceived as being safer, more efficient and more comfortable.