THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AUTOMATIC WARNING DEVICES IN REDUCING ACCIDENTS AT GRADE CROSSINGS IN CALIFORNIA

In the last seventeen years California has experienced over 17,000 vehicle-train accidents that have claimed over 550 lives. The California Public Utilities Commission and the California State Legislature have attempted to reduce the continuing human and economic loss by promoting the installation of flashing light signals and automatic crossing gates. This study is intended to gauge the effect of California's automatic warning device program on the frequency of vehicle-train accidents in general and to examine specific crossing locations to appraise the capabilities of automatic warning devices in reducing average vehicle-train accident and severity rates. To determine the effectiveness of automatic warning devices under varying conditions the before-and-after accident histories of 1,552 grade crossings where automatic devices were installed between 1960 and 1970 were compared on a crossing year basis segregated by type of warning device before and after, rural vs. urban conditions, and the number of railroad tracks. While some limitations and adverse side effects do exist, the results indicate that the installation of automatic gates can be expected, on the average, to reduce vehicle-train accidents by approximately 70% per crossing year and related deaths and injuries per year by 89% and 83%, respectively. In addition, it would appear that automatic gates eliminate many of those accidents representing the greatest potential severity, since deaths per accident were reduced 64%, injuries per accident by 43%, and deaths per injury by 36%. To point out one of the possible uses of the vehicle-train accident and severity experience, the results are combined with average installation, maintenance, and operation cost figures for flashing lights and automatic gates in a brief economic analysis aimed at determining the most cost effective alternative. (A)

  • Corporate Authors:

    San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

    City Hall, 400 Van Ness Avenue
    San Francisco, CA  USA  94102
  • Authors:
    • Schulte, W R
  • Publication Date: 1975-8-1

Media Info

  • Features: Tables;
  • Pagination: 39 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00144399
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Safety Council Safety Research Info Serv
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 31 1977 12:00AM