Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System
A railroad crossing with a variety of passive devices including fencing and signs.
Source: Flickr - Donald Lee Pardue (2010)
There are a number of ways pedestrian safety can be improved at railroad crossings by selectively using passive and/or active devices. Passive devices include: fencing; channelization; swing gates; pedestrian barriers; pavement markings and texturing; refuge areas; and fixed message signs; raising the approaches to the track and the area between the tracks to the level of the top of the rail creating flat level areas to cross; designing crossings so that the pedestrian paths of travel intersect the railroad track at a 90 degree angle, minimizing problems with the flangeway gap width through design and/or an approved flangeway filler; and widening the crosswalk when a perpendicular crossing cannot be provided so that pedestrians have room to maneuver and position themselves to cross the tracks at a 90 degree angle. Active devices include flashers; audible active warning devices; automated pedestrian gates; pedestrian signals; variable message signs; and blank-out signs.17,18 The MUTCD requires the use of railroad crossing “crossbuck” signs whenever railroad tracks intersect a public roadway or pathway.
Crossings being considered for safety improvements should be reviewed by a diagnostic team and undergo an engineering study to select the appropriate warning devices for each crossing. Crossing types that may benefit from such review and study include: crossings with a high volume of pedestrian traffic; frequent and/or high speed trains; extremely wide crossings; complex rail crossings; school zones; inadequate sight distance; and/or multiple tracks. All pedestrian railroad crossings should be designed to minimize the time required for pedestrians to cross, with emphasis on avoiding entrapment of pedestrians on or between sets of tracks.
The implementation of these measures should be accompanied by increased education, through Public Service Announcements, added information in a state’s Driver’s Education Manual, educational initiatives and school presentations, etc. In addition, rail safety laws that prohibit dangerous actions around rail crossings should be enforced. Operation Lifesaver is a program that promotes safety near rail facilities. More information may be found on this program at: http://oli.org/
Authors and Acknowledgements