Technical Reports

Improvement of the Effectiveness of Motorist Warnings at Railroad-Highway Grade Crossings

  • 01
  • Feb
  • 1977
AUTHOR: Federal Railroad Administration
OFFICE: RPD
SUBOFFICE: RPD-30
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/FRA/ORD-77/07
KEYWORDS: Railroad-Highway Grade Crossings; Grade Crossing Safety; Grade Crossing Motorist Warning Devices; Grade Crossing Flashing Lights
ABSTRACT: Flashing red incandescent lamps have formed the primary motorist warning device at grade crossings for several decades, in spite of technical constraints that inherently limit the overall effectiveness possible. Tightly focused beans, necessary to obtain high intensity at low power consumption, make perceived brightness highly dependent on precise alinement, which is difficult to achieve and expensive to maintain. In this report an examination of appropriate literature and existing standards reveals preliminary requirements of function and desirable qualities for such motorist warnings. A consideration of relevant lighting technology shows that significant improvement is possible through the use of xenon flashlamps in standard crossing mountings. The quiet flash of the xenon unit appears to be more effective, with little deviation from the applicable standards, what motorists are used to, and conventional equipment. 'This study includes a discussion of optimal specifications, relevant technology, field tests, and related topics including system credibility and the use of highway traffic signals.

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