Technical Reports

Freight Car Reflectorization

  • 01
  • Dec
  • 1982
AUTHOR: J. L. Poage, J. C. Pomfret, J. B. Hopkins
SUBJECT: Highway-Rail Grade Crossings
KEYWORDS: Railroad-Highway Crossings, Grade Crossings, Railroad Safety, Retroreflectors
ABSTRACT: This report examines five factors affecting the safety impact and costs associated with application of retroreflective materials to railroad freight cars to reduce the number of rail-highway crossing accidents in which motorists run into the side of a train in darkness. Measurements and observations on reflectorized rolling stock in Canada and a small-scale U.S. test are described and estimates are developed for the effect of dirt accumulation in reducing reflector brightness as a function of time. Photometric analysis of the circumstances associated with a crossing encounter in darkness is used to establish appropriate reflector characteristics for this application. Railroad industry data forms the basis of a detailed examination of reflectorization costs, including material, installation labor, and maintenance. Crossing accident/incident data for the period 1975 - 1980 is analyzed to determine the number of accidents and casualties which could potentially be affected by reflectorization. Finally, several remedial actions to improve crossing safety in darkness are discussed: locomotive reflectorization, locomotive alerting lights, and crossing illumination.