Technical Reports

Field Evaluation of a Wireless Handheld Computer for Rairoad Roadway Workers

  • 01
  • Jan
  • 2009
AUTHOR: Neslihan Doran and Jordan Multer
OFFICE: RPD
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/FRA/ORD-09/02
SUBJECT: Human Factors
KEYWORDS: cognitive task analysis, data link, digital communications, decision-making, intelligent railroad systems, personal remote terminal, railroad dispatcher, roadway worker, track allocation, train routing, usability
ABSTRACT: This report is the third in a series describing the development and evaluation of a software application to facilitate communications for railroad roadway workers using a wireless handheld computer. The current prototype operated on a cell phone integrated with a personal digital assistant (PDA). The roadway worker can perform two types of communication related tasks with the application: request information about train status and territory without assistance from the dispatcher and request track authority. This study documents a field evaluation of the application to identify the safety implications of digital wireless communications on roadway worker safety and performance. It compares performance using traditional voice radio and telephone communications to the use of an application that can display this information in a visual form. The software application was faster and more effective than the voice radio communication when used to convey long messages such as filling out Form Ds. Radio communication was faster than the visually based software application for simple communications that did not tax the operator’s memory.
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