Technical Reports

Driver Behavior Analysis at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings using Field Operational Test Data – Heavy Trucks

  • 14
  • Dec
  • 2012
AUTHOR: Tashi Ngamdung and Marco daSilva
OFFICE: RPD
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/FRA/ORD-12/22
SUBJECT: Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Warning Systems, Signal and Train Control, Accident Reduction
KEYWORDS: Driver behavior, highway-rail intersection, grade crossing, accident reduction, video data, violation reduction

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The United States Department of Transportation’s (U.S. DOT) Research and Innovative Technology Administration’s (RITA) John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center), under the direction of the U.S. DOT Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Office of Research and Development (R&D), conducted a research study focused on collecting and analyzing data related to driver characteristics at or on approach to highway-rail grade crossings. Volpe Center reviewed and coded 3,171 grade crossing events involving heavy vehicle drivers collected during a recent field operational test of vehicle safety systems. The data collected for each grade crossing included data about drivers’ activities, driver and vehicle performance, driving environment, and vehicle location at or on approach to highway-rail grade crossings.


One of the findings of the data analysis was that, on average, drivers were likely to engage in secondary tasks, an indicator of distraction, about 21 percent of the time while traversing a highway-rail grade crossing. Additionally, results showed that drivers failed to look either left or right on approach to passive grade crossings about 41 percent of the time. The ultimate objective of the research is to provide the basic driver behavior research needed to identify potential driver education/awareness strategies that would best mitigate risky driver behavior at grade crossings.

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