Title

DRIVER BEHAVIOR AT RAIL-HIGHWAY CROSSINGS

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

1998

Subject Area

operations - traffic, infrastructure - vehicle, planning - safety/accidents, ridership - drivers, ridership - behaviour, economics - appraisal/evaluation, mode - rail

Keywords

Traffic violations, Traffic law enforcement, Traffic accidents, Railroad grade crossings, Motor vehicle operators, Michigan, Level crossings, Human behavior, Highway railroad grade crossings, Highway rail intersections, Highway accidents, Hazard evaluation, Grade crossings, Grade crossing accidents, Drivers, Countermeasures, Behaviour, Behavior modification, Behavior

Abstract

A study of driver behavior at 37 rail-highway crossings in Michigan revealed the possible association between past crash histories and violations. Data collection included recording license plate numbers for violating vehicles, driver gender, approximate age of the driver, and the vehicle make and model. Driver violations were categorized into five different levels of severity ranging from routine to critical. The 37 study sites were subdivided into four groups based on crossing geometry and traffic control. The number of sites in the groups ranged from 5 to 18. Seven years of crash data on the study sites were considered for significance testing. Observed violation data for the same groups were calculated, and tests for statistical significance were performed on them. The results of this study indicated promise for the use of the violation data in determining the relative hazardousness of rail-highway crossings in combination with crash histories. The violation data may also be used to develop countermeasures that would help alleviate violations and eventually traffic crash problems at rail-highway crossing sites. Targeted enforcement as well should assist in driver behavioral modifications. Additionally, the timely arrival of trains after the warning devices are triggered is an essential element that motorists assess when considering taking risks.