DATA SHOWS THAT GATES ARE THE SAFEST PROTECTIVE DEVICE
AT RAILROAD CROSSINGS
(Source: Federal Railroad Administration, Railroad
Safety Statistics Annual Report 2005 Table 8-2:
Data for railroad/motor vehicle accidents at public grade
about 22% of the safety devices at crossings are gates, and
about 22% of accident deaths occur at these crossings.
- Based on the relative
volume of motorist traffic, a death is 5 times more likely
at non-gated crossings than at gated crossings
ESSENCE, ALMOST 80% OF DEATHS OCCUR AT RELATIVELY LIGHTLY-TRAVELED
CROSSINGS NOT EQUIPPED WITH GATES.
- About 37% of deaths
at gated crossings are due to motorists driving around or
- It is common knowledge
that mechanical malfunctions have caused gates to be in an
inappropriately open or closed positions.
THUS, IF GATES
DID NOT MALFUNCTION, PROBABLY MORE THAN 90% OF THE DEATHS
OCCUR AT RELATIVELY LIGHTLY-TRAVELED CROSSINGS NOT
EQUIPPED WITH GATES.
INSTALLING RELIABLE GATES WOULD ELIMINATE MOST GRADE-CROSSING
ARE 4-14 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE KILLED OR INJURED AT
A RAILROAD CROSSING
WITH CROSSBUCKS OR STOP SIGNS THAN A
CROSSING WITH AUTOMATED GATES
Deaths Per 100,000
Units of Average
Injuries Per 100,000
Units of Average
ADT = Average Daily Traffic
Of the 155,370 public railroad crossings in the United
States in the year 2000, only 34,296 -- or 22% -- were
equipped with automated gates. The most popular type of warning device
was crossbucks -- 71,468 -- while 11,630 of the crossings
had stop signs.
Federal Railroad Administration, United States Department
of Transportation, Railroad Safety Statistics Annual
Many drivers are
uncertain or are misinformed about the application of the
crossbuck and advance railroad warning signs and about
driver responsibilities at passive crossings.
Stephen Richards and K. W. Heathington, Motorists Understanding
of Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Traffic Control Devices
and Associated Traffic Laws, Transportation Research
Board No. 1160, 1988.
. . . in the active crossing application, the crossbuck is
really no more than a marker that helps identify the intersection;
yet, as a stand alone passive device, we expect the motorist
to somehow accord some deeper meaning to it. Where else in
the practice of traffic control do we permit the use of the
same sign to have different meanings in different applications?
Tom Zeinz, Improving Passive Warning Effectiveness:
A Case For a New Crossbuck,
Proceedings, 1991 National Conference on Highway-Rail Safety,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July, 1991.