Passive railroad-highway grade crossings
af Søren Underlien Jensen
Empirical knowledge about human factors related specifically to road users at passive railroad-highway grade crossings with fast trains is very limited today. There exists no precise information about:
users judgment of speed and distance of trains,
– Road users acceptance and rejection of lags to trains (time-to-arrival), and
– Real clearance times for motorized vehicles, especially for large trucks and agricultural vehicles with trailers at passive railroad-highway grade crossing of different gradients and pavement type and quality.
There is no
doubt that road users underestimate train speed, when it runs more than 30-
It is unknown whether perceptual fix points like signs along the rail line, ditch lights on trains or train design may reduce the underestimation of train speed and its influence on accident rate. Ditch lights on trains reduce the rate of accidents at passive grade crossings, but whether this is due to better recognition of train presence or better judgment of speed and distance is also unknown.
Danish standards for passive railroad-highway grade crossings appear inexpedient in poor sight conditions due to weather like fog, heavy rain, etc. Current Danish standards for sight distances are shown in section 2.3. The sight distance standards are not obeyed at several passive railroad-highway grade crossings, even far from.
If passive railroad-highway grade crossings are to exist in many years ahead then it would be relevant to know the basic relevant human factors in order to set up more cost-efficient safety measures. It is also relevant with regulatory guidelines for train speed if sight distances are not obeyed and during poor sight conditions due to weather.
literature shows that several technical safety measures exist, which actually
improve safety at passive railroad-highway grade crossings. Even driveways and
dirt roads with poor pavement conditions are possible to make safer at railroad
grade crossings at low costs e.g. by creating a perpendicular crossing,
reducing gradients, increasing sight distances, etc. Besides technical safety
measures, both campaigning and education may improve safety at grade crossings.