Illinois, USA: Pedestrian and cyclist signs and warning devices

25 Apr

Federal reporting in the USA shows a relatively constant number of pedestrian and bicycle fatalities at highway and footpath level crossings over the past 10 years. This is in contrast to a marked decrease in train–vehicle collisions at highway level crossings. Although engineering solutions and education and enforcements initiatives have been proposed and implemented, little is known about their effectiveness to mitigate such incidents. This study, undertaken by the Illinois Center for Transportation for the Illinois Department of Transportation, reports on findings from the literature, discussions with professionals in the public and private sectors involved in safety at level crossings, and pedestrian/non-motorised user behaviour and attitudes toward safety at such crossings. This study highlights the multitude of factors related to pedestrian safety in this context and provides an informed discussion for stakeholders to advance safety initiatives.

Findings from the observed behaviour element of the research are:

1. Pedestrians who took the most risk by ignoring lowered gates found themselves having to cross the tracks in a hurry compared with pedestrians who adhere to the rules

2. In certain situations with larger platoons crossing the tracks at the same time (e.g., getting on/off commuter/light rail, school start/end times), the clearance interval was longer, which has potential implications for extending the warning times by providing more warning in advance

3. Larger groups of pedestrians are more likely to commit a violation against activated devices or signs compared with lone pedestrians and groups of two pedestrians

4. Pedestrian gates have an even stronger effect on deterring actual (compared with stated) pedestrian behavior of crossing the tracks illegally, even after controlling for variations between crossings and train direction

The report can be found at: http://ict.illinois.edu/Publications/report%20files/FHWA-ICT-13-013.pdf

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