Distracted Highway Users at Highway-rail Grade Crossings

The objective of this research is to assess the incidences of distracted drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists at highway-rail grade crossings, using data collected in the field and provide guidance on countermeasure strategies. Distractions for highway users have increased over the past decade, due to the widespread availability of electronic gadgets that allow owners to listen to music, talk, text, and use the Internet while on the road. Significant research emphasis has been on distracted drivers; however, pedestrians and bicyclists are also susceptible, especially at highway-rail grade crossings where mistakes could easily result in fatalities. A total of 2,397 highway-rail grade crossing collisions were reported in 2008, resulting in 286 deaths and more than 900 injuries. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) statistics show that in 78 of these vehicle-train collisions, the cause was listed as "highway user inattentiveness," resulting in 14 deaths and 117 injuries. Other FRA statistics show that in 488 grade crossing crashes, vehicles ran into trains already present at the crossings. Of those crashes, more than 60% were at crossings equipped with either gates or flashing lights, while just over 33% occurred at crossings with either stop or crossbuck signs. Although these crashes may have multiple causes, distracted driving appears to be a contributing factor. A highway-rail crossing located in Fremont, NE will be studied for distracted drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists by using observers in the field and a video recording system. Additional data will be gathered by surveying a sample of the grade crossing users. This location already has the needed electric power, while a new camera and digital video recorder will be installed. Collected data will be analyzed for instances of distracted usage of the crossing by drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. The results will provide information for the development of an informed strategy on reducing distracted usage of grade crossings.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    University Transportation Centers Program
    1200 New Jersey Avenue
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Nebraska, Lincoln

    Lincoln, NE  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Khattak, Aemal

  • Start Date: 20120701
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20131231
  • Source Data: RiP Project 32776

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01483150
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Mid-America Transportation Center
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT12-G-UTC07
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Jun 5 2013 1:01AM