Gate Rushing at Highway-Railroad Grade Crossings: Drivers' Response to Centerline Barrier

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - vehicle, ridership - drivers, ridership - behaviour, mode - rail


Video cameras, Railroad grade crossings, Motor vehicle operators, Level crossings, Human behavior, Highway railroad grade crossings, Highway rail intersections, Grade crossings, Gate running, Drivers, Camcorders, Behaviour, Behavior, Before and after studies, Barriers (Roads), Aggressive drivers


This paper deals with the issue of aggressive motor vehicle drivers rushing through closed gates or gates in motion when trains are in close proximity to a highway–railroad grade crossing. The paper’s objectives were to report drivers’ frequency of gate rushing and factors associated with it and to investigate drivers’ response to varying degrees of control exercised on their ability to rush through gates. Motor vehicle drivers at a highway–railroad grade crossing were observed by using video equipment before and after a plastic and rubber barrier was installed along the roadway centerline on both sides of the crossing. The installation was in two stages that progressively limited drivers’ ability to go through closed gates. During the first stage, the barriers on both sides of the crossing were installed such that they stopped short of the gates, while in the second stage they were fully extended to the gates. The expectation was that gate rushing will diminish when the barrier is erected but stops short of the gates and that it will further diminish when the barrier is fully extended to the gates. Data analysis showed a gate rush occurring about once every five train crossings; installation of the barrier along the roadway centerline on both sides of the crossing during the first stage reduced gate rushing by 37%. Contrary to the authors’ expectations, no additional reduction in gate rushing was observed when the barriers were fully extended to the gates. Instances of gate rushing increased with longer durations of road closures but decreased if crossing trains stopped on the tracks or if weather conditions were not favorable.