Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, mode - rail


Traffic violations, Traffic law enforcement, Texas, Railroad grade crossings, Level crossings, Highway railroad grade crossings, Highway rail intersections, Grade crossings, Gated crossings, Field studies, Automated enforcement


In 1995, legislation was passed by the 74th State Legislature of Texas requiring the Texas Department of Transportation to install and operate automated enforcement systems at up to 10 highway-railroad grade crossings as a demonstration project. An issue that arose early was determination of which gated crossings were best suited for automated enforcement systems in terms of maximizing potential safety benefits. To resolve this issue, research was conducted to identify operational and geometric variables that may influence violations at gated highway-railroad grade crossings. Because crashes at gated crossings are such infrequent events, which can limit the effectiveness of statistical analyses, drivers' actions at gated crossings were recorded and used as the measure of effectiveness. They were classified into two categories: those who violated and those who complied with the traffic laws. Vehicle and train operations at 19 gated highway-railroad grade crossings in Texas were recorded for a minimum of 24 continuous hours per site. A total of 868 opportunities to violate the traffic laws associated with gated crossings were recorded. Motorists committed violations during 460 of these opportunities. Models were developed that can be used to identify gated crossings that are expected to have high violation rates compared with other gated crossings. Because these models focus on violations instead of crashes, they are more sensitive to the level of hazardous behavior that occurs at gated crossings. Use of the proposed models should lead to better selection of gated crossings where automated enforcement systems or additional conventional enforcement will be most effective.