Other Reports

Safety of High Speed Guided Ground Transportation Systems: Study of the Startle Effect

  • 01
  • Jun
  • 1994
AUTHOR: John Guidnard, L. Stephen Jennings, John Springer
SUBJECT: Human Factors
KEYWORDS: Traffic Accidents, Startle Mitigation, Accident Prevention
ABSTRACT: This report was undertaken to address the question of whether or not the rapid passage of high-speed guided ground transportation (HSGGT) vehicles is likely to startle motorists sufficiently to increase the prevalence of traffic accidents on public highways sharing or adjacent to the right-of-way (ROW); and if so, determine which startle mitigation devices or procedures might be used cost-effectively to minimize the risk. The impetus for this report came about largely as a result of a very real and growing concern on the part of high-speed rail conceptualizers, planners, and developers that there is a significant risk of HSGGT trains startling motorists and causing highway accidents. In our approach to the highway startle question, ASTI reviewed selected bodies of published scientific literature addressing the effects upon human task performance of acoustic, visual, and other triggers of the normal startle reflex. The principal effort, however, was directed toward interviewing and soliciting information and opinions, both by telephone and through correspondence on the startle question from a broad range of agencies and individual experts in the United States as well as in foreign countries already experienced in HSGGT operations (Appendix C).