Fire Technology

, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 623–647 | Cite as

A Virtual Reality Experiment on Flashing Lights at Emergency Exit Portals for Road Tunnel Evacuation

  • Enrico Ronchi
  • Daniel Nilsson
  • Saša Kojić
  • Joakim Eriksson
  • Ruggiero Lovreglio
  • Henric Modig
  • Anders Lindgren Walter


A virtual reality (VR) experiment with 96 participants was carried out to provide recommendations on the design of flashing lights at emergency exit portals for road tunnel emergency evacuation. The experiment was carried out in a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment laboratory. A set of variables was investigated, namely (1) colour of flashing lights, (2) flashing rate, (3) type of light source, (4) number and layout of the lights on the portal. 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. A flashing rate of 1 and 4 Hz performed better than a flashing rate of 0.25 Hz. A light emitting diode light source performed better than single and double strobe lights. The three layouts of the lights under consideration performed similarly.


Virtual reality Emergency evacuation Tunnel evacuation Flashing lights Theory of affordances Emergency exit 



This work is part of the “Stockholm Bypass, tunnel safety studies”, co-funded by Trafikverket and the EU Trans-European transport network (TEN-T). The work presented in this report is a sub-part of “Stockholm Bypass, tunnel safety studies” and it is called “Evacuation route design” (Utformning av utrymningsväg). The authors also wish to acknowledge Sara Petterson (MTO Säkerhet) and Andrew Pryke (Faveo Projektledning) for their support. The sole responsibility of this publication lies with the authors. The European Union is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein. Ruggiero Lovreglio thanks the Lerici Foundation for the financial support for his guest researcher appointment at Lund University.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Enrico Ronchi
    • 1
  • Daniel Nilsson
    • 1
  • Saša Kojić
    • 1
  • Joakim Eriksson
    • 2
  • Ruggiero Lovreglio
    • 3
  • Henric Modig
    • 4
  • Anders Lindgren Walter
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Fire Safety EngineeringLund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.Department of Design SciencesLund UniversityLundSweden
  3. 3.Department of Civil, Environmental, Planning, Building and ChemistryTechnical University of BariBariItaly
  4. 4.Faveo Projektledning ABStockholmSweden
  5. 5.MTO Säkerhet ABStockholmSweden

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