Technical Reports

Field Evaluation of a Wayside Horn at a Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing

  • 01
  • Jun
  • 1998
AUTHOR: Jordan Multer and Amanda Rapoza
OFFICE: RPD
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/FRA/ORD-98/04
SUBJECT: Freight Operations, Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Warning Systems, Highway-Rail Grade Crossings, Human Factors
KEYWORDS: auditory warning, community noise impact, highway-railroad grade crossings, safety, train horn,
ABSTRACT: The current study represents one of several efforts by the Federal Railroad Administration to evaluate the effectiveness of auditory warnings designed to promote awareness of approaching trains. A stationary horn (or wayside horn) located at the grade crossing was evaluated to learn whether it would reduce community noise impact without adversely affecting motorist safety, compared to a train horn. This report documents the results of two surveys comparing the community noise impact of a wayside horn to a train horn and an analysis of motorist behavior at the grade crossing. Acoustic data were also collected to describe the sound characteristics of each warning signal. The wayside horn tested was considerably less annoying to the community than the train horn. The lower sound level of the wayside horn compared to the train horn was a significant factor in explaining why it was perceived as less annoying than the train horn. In the safety evaluation, the wayside horn did not result in behavior that put the driver at increased accident risk compared to the train horn. Implementation issues that will impact safety and community noise were also identified. These issues included: activation method, hardware design and standardization.
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