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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgments

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.

Author information

Correspondence to Enrico Ronchi.

Appendix

Appendix

The affordance-based questionnaire administered to test participants is presented here.

“You are now standing in front of an evacuation portal in a road tunnel. Answer the following questions about the current design. You will use a 7-point scale where −3 is the worst and +3 is the best. For example, a scale can be −3—extremely difficult, −2—very difficult, −1—difficult, 0 is neither difficult nor easy, +1—easy, +2—very easy, +3—extremely easy. Try to imagine the scenario that you just experienced, i.e., an evacuation in a road tunnel, when you answer the questions.

Question A1 State on a scale from −3 to +3 how easy the design is to discover

In the scale −3 is extremely difficult, and +3 is extremely easy

Question A2 State on a scale from −3 to +3 how easy it is to understand that the design is an exit that you should use

In the scale −3 is extremely difficult, and +3 is extremely easy

Question A3 State on a scale from −3 to +3 how good support the design offers for your evacuation

In the scale −3 is extremely bad, and +3 is extremely good”

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Ronchi, E., Nilsson, D., Kojić, S. et al. A Virtual Reality Experiment on Flashing Lights at Emergency Exit Portals for Road Tunnel Evacuation. Fire Technol 52, 623–647 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10694-015-0462-5

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Keywords

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