Reducing Risk Taking at Passive Railroad Crossings with Active Warnings

This simulated driving study evaluates driver interaction with a low cost active warning system being considered by Mn/DOT for potential installation at passive highway-rail intersections (HRIs). The objective of the study is to ascertain if, relative to HRIs with passive signage, drivers interact in a more cautious manner with HRIs equipped with active warning system technology. The experimental design comprised: (1) 0.65 mi simulated roadway, with simulated HRI 0.644 km (0.4 mi) from start line; (2) 1 trial (start to end line) lasts about 1 min; (3) 120 trials/subject; (4) simulated train encountered in 13.3% of trials; (5) 25 subjects (15 females, 10 males); (6) independent measures are: 4 control/test conditions; train absent/present; visibility clear/fog; (7) 2 control conditions: Control #1-advance passive warning sign (WS)/ crossing (Xing) passive WS; Control #2-advance passive WS/Xing active WS (flashing red lights); (8) 2 Test Conditions: Test #1-advance active WS (flashing yellow lights)/Xing active WS; Test #2-advance active flashing variable message sign (VMS)/Xing active WS; and (9) dependent measures are visually observed unsafe incidents and objective simulated driving measures (speed, braking, acceleration), plus responses to a post-test questionnaire (PTQ). Major results are: (1) statistically significant main effects of train (present/absent), visibility (clear/foggy), and Xing WS conditions; (2) incidents of vehicle beating train or hitting train are higher for trials with a passive advance WS, relative to those with an active advance WS; (3) with a train present and clear visibility, for all measurement intervals, active advance WS are associated with lower mean vehicle speeds, compared to mean speeds observed with passive advance WS; (4) active advance and Xing WS are perceived by PTQ respondents to be more usable and more conspicuous than passive advance and Xing WS ; and (5) flashing words (e.g., a VMS) are perceived by PTQ respondents to be more conspicuous than flashing lights on an active advance HRI WS.

  • Record URL:
  • Corporate Authors:

    University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

    HumanFIRST Program, 111 Church Street, SE
    Minneapolis, MN  United States  55455

    Minnesota Department of Transportation

    Office of Research Services, 395 John Ireland Boulevard
    St Paul, MN  United States  55155
  • Authors:
    • Smith, Thomas J
  • Publication Date: 2004-6


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 162p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01013337
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: MN/RC-2004-33
  • Created Date: Dec 10 2005 10:57PM