Level crossing safety


Types of Railway Level Crossing

In Australia, there are about 9,400 railroad degree crossings, of which 2,650 ( 30 % ) are active crossings and staying 6,060 are inactive crossings ( Ford and Matthews et al. , 2002 ) . In add-on to that there are occupational, cane and private railroad degree crossings. ‘Active ‘ degree crossings are the crossings which active protection such as signals and/or roar Gatess which operate automatically when a train is nearing. ‘Passive ‘ degree crossings are the crossings which have merely marks and/or pavement markers. In Australia there are about 2,400 engines in service ( ARRB Transport Research et al. , 2002 ) .


Cases of clangs

It ‘s clear that the walkers are worst effected at the railroad degree crossings followed by motor vehicles ( ATSB et al. , 2002 ) . This besides explains typical clang events, but a major clang affecting a coach or a rider train could ensue in considerable loss of life and belongings.

For the past old ages, the addition in passenger demand, velocity of trains, sound proofing, train soundlessness, size of trucks, freight demand, were expected to increase the badness of clangs. These alterations in the classs make it more hard to cut down these accidents and their effects.

Pedestrian Cases

It is known that 60 % of the reported deceases at RLCs are the walkers but there is no immediate information available readily on a national footing. Therefore at this phase it is small bit hard to warrant betterments on safety, except on a instance by instance footing. And it becomes critical when handicapped individuals are involved For illustration, in Queensland, these safety betterments are by and large undertaken in a system broad strategic attack.

Vulnerable Cases

There are some instances where the route users are likely to be exposed to hazards. Some of them were:

  • Where bike or bike faux pass on the tracks,
  • Where wheelchair or bike wheels may acquire stuck in the rail rim spread, and
  • Hazards for handicapped people.

Therefore at the clip of developing Countermeasures, the demands of people with disablements and other vulnerable users should be peculiarly considered when developing countermeasures to guarantee railroad degree traversing safety.

Factors of Level Crossing accidents

Whenever accidents occur at RLCs route users tends to fault the traffic control devices. Therefore the applied scientists need to see the route user factors in order to program and design control devices or doing any betterments at RLCs. They should be cognizant of route user features, capablenesss, demands, demands and duty of users because they will assist in planing proper method or better betterments at RLCs ( Tustin et al. , 1986 ) . There are 3 chief factors lending to accidents at RLC in basic safety technology surveies. They are:

  • Human Factor
  • This is one of the major factors responsible for RLCs. This is chiefly due to the driver ‘s misdemeanor of regulations.

  • Engineering Factor
  • This factor is of about the geometric design of the railroad path doing a clear vision of geting train.

    Environmental Factor

    This factor deals with the environmental conditions predominating at the RLCs in different seasons and their part to accidents.

Human Factor

Caird ( 2002 ) reported that many surveies related with human factors lending to accidents at RLC were conducted by many research workers chiefly from Australia ( Wigglesworth et al. , 2001 ) ; Sweden ( Aberg et al. , 1988 ) ; Israel ( Shinar et al. , 1982 ) and the US ( Klein et al. , 1994 ; Lerner et al. , 1990 ) .

Acquaintance of crossings is found to be the one of the chief ground for accidents at RLCs. And on this, Wigglesworth ( 1978 ) conducted a instance survey of accidents occurred in Australia from 1973 to 1977 and he found that 87 % of accidents were occurred due to the acquaintance of the crossings.

Misdemeanor of regulations by drivers is another ground for accidents. National Transport Safety Board ( NTSB ) , US investigated in 1998 about 60 accident instances, out of which they found 49 instances were due to driver mistake. Of those 49 instances, 29 instances include driver ‘s neglect for the halt mark and failure to look for a train. And the staying instances are related to roadway and track conditions and impacting the ability of the driver to recognize the inactive crossing in front and the attending of nearing a train. Documented grounds ( West Net Rail and Australia Western Railroad et al. , July 2002 ) from train drivers indicates many state of affairss where drivers ignore the marks or signals

Besides hazardous behavior is besides one of the grounds for accidents. A instance survey was done by Witte in 2000 on 891 occupants who are selected indiscriminately in Michigan, and he found that 10 to 20 per centum of them tried to crush the train which is considered a hazardous behavior.

Decelerating down of vehicles when nearing these RLCs is besides another lending factor for accidents ( Moon et al. , 2003, Ward et al. , 1996 ) . This occurs because of the misjudgement of the drivers whether to traverse or non at inactive crossings due to proper deficiency of vision.

Other factors such as long times may take drivers to prosecute in riskier behavior at crossings ( Berg et al. , 1982 ) . This ‘deliberate hazard taking behaviors ‘ consequences in major hazards, peculiarly where heavy, long or slow vehicles are involved.

Research on Human Factor

This analysis was done by M W Pickett and G B Grayson, who are Researchers at Transportation Laboratory in Berkshire, UK.

Their survey has examined a figure of facets of driver behavior at flat crossings.

A preliminary survey was conducted by M W Pickett and G B Grayson in 1996. Their survey was carried out on a sample of 419 informant statements which they obtained from the British Transport Police, North East Area. The bulk of these statements were taken from drivers who had been observed by British Transport Police Officers violated activated warning systems at flat crossings protected by automatic half barriers, and at unfastened crossings.

The statements were analysed and classified harmonizing to whether the drivers claimed to hold been unwilling to halt, unable to halt, or unaware of the crossing.

The consequences show that over a half of drivers ( 55 % ) were unwilling to halt at flat crossings when the warning systems were activated. 13 % of drivers were unable to halt, while merely over one one-fourth ( 27 % ) claimed to be incognizant of either the crossing or the visible radiations, and 5 % could non be classified. The ground given for making this ranged from being late for work to merely non desiring to halt. Drivers that were apprehended for traversing while the visible radiations were blinking ruddy, and had claimed they crossed because person was going excessively near behind, were besides caused as unwilling.

Drivers who were on the crossing as the warning system came into operation were classed as being unable to halt. Similarly, those drivers who stated they had been followed excessively closely by other autos to be able to halt safely were classed as unable to halt.

Drivers were classified as being unaware of the traversing if they did non retrieve the incident, did non remember seeing the warning visible radiations activated, or did non remember the crossing. Seven per centum of lawbreakers stated they could non retrieve the incident.

Fifteen per centum of the lawbreakers stated that they did non detect that the visible radiations had been activated. One per centum of lawbreakers reported that the place of the Sun prevented them cognizing that the visible radiations were blinking.

This analysis has given some penetration into why some drivers violate activated warning systems. However it is hard to do generalizations about behavior from this sample because of the possibility of misdirecting statements. It is besides hard to cognize from this information whether any alterations to traversing design would raise driver ‘s consciousness, or whether improved driver instruction would cut down the figure of wrongdoers.

From the above informations three classs of driver have been identified which are likely to be involved in accidents at flat crossings.

  • those who are unwilling to halt,
  • those who are unable to halt, and
  • those who are incognizant of the signals.

In the analysis of witness statements, over half of the drivers were unwilling to halt when the warning systems were activated, and therefore continued to traverse. Just over one one-fourth crossed holding maintained that they were unaware of the crossing or warning visible radiations, while one in eight drivers held that they were unable to halt at the crossing.

It is necessary for drivers to understand and obey the warning signals in order for degree crossing to be effectual.

It is of some concern that such a big proportion of drivers are willing to put on the line traversing against the warning signals. This is non a effect of any mistake with the warning systems, these drivers are cognizant of the warning signals, but merely take to disregard them.

Drivers who told they were unaware of the position of the warning signals as they drove over the crossing are a group worthy of more survey. The most common ground given for traversing against the warning signal was that drivers said they had non noticed the visible radiations were activated.

Engineering factor

Many surveies showed that technology factors includes main road and railroad features which are the lending factors to accidents at RLCs./

This factor comes in to play at the clip of planing a railroad path. There are about nine constituents need to be considered. They are There are Annual Daily Traffic ( ADT ) , Number of Passenger Trains, Stoping sight Distance V. Recommended Sight Distance, Approached Sight Distance V. Recommended Sight Distance, Speed of Train, Entire Numbers of Train, Speed of Highway Traffic, Number of Quadrants Sight is Restricted from and the Clearance Time ( Qureshi et al. , 2005 ) .

The figure of hits additions with an addition in volume of traffic on the route. An unambiguous relationship was shown by Saccomanno ( 2003 ) between the figure of hits and the volume of traffic on the route. Surface breadth of the route is besides another factor with RLCs as it affects vehicle-train hits every bit good as among the vehicle-vehicle hits. As the surface with additions it renders into higher volume of traffic on the route which is straight relative to the figure of accidents at RLCs.

Inadequate lines of sight and warning times generate a tense state of affairs whether to traverse the path or non particularly in the instance of long and heavy vehicles.

Harwood ( 1990 ) reported that 11 % of the accidents relative to heavy vehicles have been increased to 20 % in US. Similarly Tardiff ( 2001 ) reported that the per centum of heavy vehicles involved in RLC accidents were increased by 4 % from 1990 to 2000 though the original accident rates have been dropped half from 1983 to 2000 in Canada. However, bikes have a higher human death rate. This is due to the deficiency of driving accomplishments of the driver of the bike. Besides angle of the path, figure of trains play a important function in technology design.

Saccomanno ( 2003 ) reported that figure of hits addition with an addition in train velocity. It is different as RLCs equipped with Gatess. It was shown that figure of paths has an consequence on hits at RLC equipped with Gatess. With the addition in figure of trains day-to-day, the figure of hits is expected to increase at RLCs./

Environmental factor

This factor contributes to a small extent for the accidents at RLCs. Caird ( 2002 ) reported that conditions is besides an of import factor of accidents at inactive RLCs. The environmental factors impacting the visibleness are snow, fog, heavy rain or mist. The Sun can besides blind the driver ‘s vision due to its contemplation caused by dawn and sundown. Earlier surveies by Meeker ( 1989 ) in US showed that, over 57 accidents occurred at RLCs activated by exhibitionist, 56 instances involved visibleness jobs. This is due to the heavy storm at the location.

Caird ( 2002 ) besides showed that 40 % of the accidents occur between 0930 – 1530 during Monday – Friday and that excessively in first-come-first-serve hours.

Research on Engineering and Environmental factors

An analysis was done by J.K. Caird, J.I. Creaser, C.J. Edwards, & A ; R.E. Dewar in University of Calgary, Canada in 2002.

Their analysis was a theoretical one and it was wholly based on the informations which they collected from Transportation Development Centre ( TDC ) , Canada.

Normally the angle at which the main road and railway track meet may sometimes do visibleness jobs. Sing this factor, they obtained the informations from Rail Occurrence Database System ( RODS ) which showed that the accidents are frequents for those crossings which have an angle of less than or equal to 80° or greater than 100° . They crosschecked with the Transport Canada ‘s Integrated Rail Information System ( IRIS ) database to obtain angles for the crossing. They found that angles provided by both the RODS and IRIS are normally the crossing angles and non the accident angle.

The IRIS showed that more than half of the accidents occurred where the intersection angle was 80° or less and this 80° could besides be sometimes 100° ( opposite angle ) .

However, the intersection angle should bespeak the attack way of the main road user and besides the way of the travel. Therefore, the information provided by RODS and IRIS is marginally utile. Collection of accurate angles and the way of travel for both the train and route vehicle would hold improved a declaration of the reply to this line of question.

A higher frequence of accidents in winter months ( i.e. , November to February ) could be attributed to several factors such as fog, and snow. This is due to the driver ‘s incapableness to set the velocity of their vehicles to these insecure environmental conditions. As they reach a crossing, drivers may try to halt but they slide into the crossing and are struck by or skid into the train. A 2nd factor that may increase accident hazard during the winter is reduced visibleness due to fewer daylight hours, blowing snow, ice fog, and so forth. Therefore, trains going through crossings are missed for a assortment of grounds, including conspicuity. Slow-moving trains under these conditions may present particularly hard conspicuity issues.

Some Findingss

Darkness and fog in combination most likely obscured the visibleness of the train, but the extent of the conditions is comparative. For illustration, one research worker may mention “heavy fog” while another merely states “foggy conditions” . The presence of “heavy” in the first instance does non adequately distinguish from the “foggy conditions” in the 2nd instance.

Sun blaze poses a job for drivers at railroad crossings and besides it may impede the sensing of cross vaulting horses and blinking light signals at crossings.

Snow can happen throughout the twelvemonth at any clip. Snow conditions may forestall a driver ‘s ability to see the nearing train. Failure to adequately set vehicle velocity to snow or obscure conditions is a common accident subscriber.


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