Highway-Rail Crossing Safety Improvement by Diverting Motorists to Alternate Routes

University  University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL)
Principal Investigators  Aemal Khattak, Ph.D., Civil Engineering (PI)
PI Contact Information  262D Whittier Research Center
P.O. Box 830851
Lincoln, NE 68583-0851
Office (402) 472-8126
Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization)  UTCRS (US DOT UTC Program): $99,996
NE Department of Roads: $49,998
Total Project Cost  $149,994
Agency ID or Contract Number  DTRT13-G-UTC59
Start and End Dates July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2018
Brief Description of Research Project  Integration of an advanced train detection system with a highway traveler information system is needed at highway rail grade crossings (HRGCs) to improve operational efficiency and safety. Diversion of highway traffic to alternate routes that use grade-separated crossings may reduce crash exposure at HRGCs and thereby improve safety. However, research on specific applications and effects of such technologies at HRGCs has not fully been explored. Train Occupancy Time Estimation System (TOTES) was developed in this study to detect train movements, estimate its speed and size, calculate the amount of expected delay that motorists may likely experience, and inform the motorists of the delay. Detailed system components, relevant equations for required variables, and system information logic flow are presented. With a field test of the modified version for the originally developed system, it was revealed that the system significantly improved the safety at a study HRGC by reducing unsafe motorist maneuvers such as crossing the solid white line and illegal left turns. Furthermore, the use of a variable message sign was found to affect the motorists’ decision to take an alternate route to avoid delay due to the presence of a train at a crossing. This study provides evidence that safety may be improved at HRGCs by deploying systems such as TOTES.
Keywords Motorist information, rail crossing safety, variable message signs
Describe Implementation of Research Outcomes (or why not implemented) Place Any Photos Here See Report.
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation (actual, not anticipated) See Report.
Report http://www.utrgv.edu/railwaysafety/_files/documents/research/operations/utcrs_khattak_highway-rail-crossing-safety-improvement_final-report.pdf
Project Website http://www.utrgv.edu/railwaysafety/research/operations/highway-rail-crossing-safety-diverting-motorists/index.htm