California Department of Transportation

Methodology For Applying Safety Treatments To Rail-Highway At-Grade Crossings


Bradley Mizuno

Task Description

In 2006 there were 32 people killed and 36 injured at public rail-highway crossings in California. Twenty-nine of the deaths and 32 of the injuries occurred at crossings equipped with gates. In the first five months of 2007 there were 18 killed and 22 injured, with all of the deaths and 20 of the injuries occurring at gated crossings (FRA, 2007).
There is a group of drivers, more than half less than 40 years old, and male by a ratio of three to one, who are not deterred by lowered gates and have a misplaced confidence in their ability to judge train location and speed. Research has shown that, in general, humans have difficulty judging the speed and distance of an oncoming train (Cooper and Ragland, 2007). Since sight-line improvements, train conspicuity improvements, and warning system upgrades will not improve this situation, the solution to rail crossing crashes must be found by removing the need to make such a decision. This translates to making it impossible, or at least very difficult, for the driver to bypass the lowered gates.

Task Objective

Develop methodology for applying safety treatments to at-grade rail-highway grade crossings.

Final Report/Deliverables

Applying Safety Treatments To Rail-Highway At-Grade Crossings