Evaluation of Trespassing Detection and Warning Systems in the Vicinity of Highway-Rail Grade Crossings

Highway-rail grade crossings have always presented a significant safety challenge for road authorities and railroads across the United States and historically have been the source of most of the railroad-related deaths. Implementation of a dedicated federal funding program in the early 1970s resulted in tremendous reductions in highway-rail grade crossing fatalities, from 888 in 1975 to 197 in 2020, according to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Still a major focus for safety improvements, highway-rail grade crossings now represent the second highest source of railroad-related fatalities behind trespassing. Trespassing, including suicides, now represents approximately 70% of all railroad-related deaths and is trending upward. The FRA Office of Safety Analysis data demonstrates trespassing fatalities increasing over 31% the past 10 years to 525 fatalities in 2020, a number far exceeding the 197 fatalities at highway-rail grade crossings. According to FRA, the 9,363 reported trespassing accidents during the 2012 and 2016 period were associated with a societal cost of $43.2 billion in fatalities and injuries and more than $56.0 million losses in travel time delays in trains. Additionally, the FRA reports that about 74% of deaths and injuries related to rail trespassing (excluding suicides) and 73% of suicide attempts occur within 1,000 feet (


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  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $450000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 17-122

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Khaleghi, Bijan

  • Start Date: 20230214
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01845583
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 17-122
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 18 2022 9:34AM