Providing Traffic Control Device Information in a Connected and Automated Vehicle Environment

Report No: 19-R19

Published in 2019

About the report:

Traffic control devices (TCDs) play a critical role in delivering regulatory, warning, informational, and guidance information to drivers.  Transportation agencies devote considerable resources to support TCD installation and maintenance.  However, as connected vehicles develop and vehicle automation becomes a reality, the potential exists to replace or augment TCDs with a digital connection. 

This project investigated the development of a digital TCD (DTCD) data service, focusing on signs and pavement markings. To do so, the research team investigated emerging wireless communications capabilities, identified infrastructure information needs of automated vehicles, reviewed Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)current TCD practices, and surveyed existing data service systems. 

The results of the study led to the following conclusions:

  • Automated and connected vehicles will be most directly served with a comprehensive DTCD data service as opposed to deriving information from physical devices.

  • A portion of the data needed to populate a DTCD data service exists in VDOT database systems. 

  • There is a need for a national standard for DTCD data services.

  • VDOT should conduct a prototype study to gain experience developing and operating a DTCD data service.
Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Richard Atta Boateng, Xiaoxiao Zhang, Hyungjun Park, Ph.D., and Brian L. Smith, Ph.D., P.E.

Last updated: November 10, 2023

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