An Investigation of Operational Procedures for Highway Advisory Radio Systems

Report No: 96-R4

Published in 1995

About the report:

A key objective of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) is to provide travelers with accurate, real-time information, helping them make better decisions about when to travel, what mode to use, and what route to take. An interface is necessary to convey this information. Currently, the AM radio is an interface available in nearly all automobiles. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has deployed highway advisory radio (HAR) in several regions of the Commonwealth. This study reviewed previous research and technical information, examined the use of HAR in Virginia and other states by interviewing key personnel, and surveyed Virginia motorists to ascertain the public's perception of HAR. The results were used to develop the HAR Operational Guidelines, published in a separate document, and the conclusions contained in this report. Specifically, Proper HAR operation is personnel-intensive. To be of actual value to motorists, information must be gathered from many agencies, consolidated rapidly and accurately, and frequently updated. Presently, information provided on HAR stations is of limited value to motorists. Consequently, motorists depend on commercial radio station traffic reports for most of their information, instead of tuning in to HAR broadcasts. Changeable message signs should be used to advise motorists when they are in an HAR broadcast area, directing specific messages to the appropriate audience. Conventional vertical antennae are more cost-effective than radiating cable systems and should be used exclusively.

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.


  • Bruce R. Newman, Steven L. Jones, Brian L. Smith, Ph.D., Catherine C. McGhee, P.E., Amy A. O'Leary, Ph.D.

Last updated: December 17, 2023

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