Title

AUTOMATED-HORN WARNING SYSTEM FOR HIGHWAY-RAILROAD GRADE CROSSINGS: EVALUATION AT THREE CROSSINGS IN AMES, IOWA

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

2000

Subject Area

operations - traffic, planning - safety/accidents, economics - appraisal/evaluation, mode - rail

Keywords

Warning systems, Traffic safety, Residential areas, Railroad grade crossings, Quality of life, Noise pollution, Noise, Level crossings, Horns, Highway railroad grade crossings, Highway rail intersections, Grade crossings, Automation, Automated control systems, Ames (Iowa)

Abstract

Traditionally, locomotive engineers begin sounding the train horn approximately one-quarter mile from the crossing to warn motorists and pedestrians approaching the intersection. To be heard over this distance, the train horn must be very loud. This combination of loud horns and the length along the tracks that the horn is sounded creates a large area adversely impacted by the horn noise. In urban areas, this area likely includes many nearby residents. The automated-horn system provides a similar audible warning to motorists and pedestrians by using two stationary horns mounted at the crossing. Each horn directs its sound toward the approaching roadway. The horn system is activated using the same track-signal circuitry as the gate arms and bells located at the crossing. Once the horn is activated, a strobe light begins flashing to inform the locomotive engineer that the horn is working. Horn volume data collected near the crossings clearly demonstrate the significant reduction of land area negatively impacted by using the automated horns. Residents overwhelmingly accepted the automated-horn systems and noted a significant improvement in their quality of life. Motorists preferred the automated-horn systems, and locomotive engineers rated these crossings slightly safer compared with the same crossings in the before (train horn) condition.