Highway-rail grade crossings have always presented a significant safety challenge for highway agencies and railroads across the United States and historically have been the source of most railroad-related deaths. Although implementation of a dedicated federal funding program in the early 1970s has resulted in substantial reductions in highway-rail grade crossing fatalities, these crossings still represent the second highest source of railroad-related fatalities behind trespassing. Rail trespassing, including suicides, represents approximately 70% of all railroad-related deaths, much of which occur within 1,000 feet of a highway-rail grade crossing. These accidents are associated with a substantial societal cost in fatalities and injuries, delays in train travel time, and significant delays to motorists and other roadway users.
Enhancement of law enforcement, education, community, and roadway planning, and the application of warning systems to railroad and highway rights-of-way to detect and warn trespassers would help reduce and possibly prevent trespassing. There is a need to document current practices and technologies, and identify research needed to enhance these practices and technologies. This information will provide a basis for future research that will help identify or develop practices and technologies that will prevent trespassing and eliminate related injuries, fatalities, and service disruption.
The objectives of this project are to (1) document current practices and technologies relevant to the warning, detection, and prevention of trespassing in the vicinity of highway-rail grade crossings and (2) identify the research needed to enhance these practices and technologies. This information will provide basis for future research to identify or develop practices and technologies that will prevent trespassing and eliminate related injuries, fatalities, and service disruption.
Accomplishment of the project objectives will require at least the following tasks.
Task 1. Collect and review domestic and foreign literature, research findings, and information pertaining to the practices and technologies for warning, detection, and prevention of trespassing in the vicinity of highway-rail grade crossings. The review should include practices and technologies used in other applications and can be used to address trespassing issues (e.g., radar, light detection and ranging (LiDAR), and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)). This information may be obtained from published and unpublished reports, and contacts with public and private organizations (e.g., survey of state departments of transportation, railroads, and other relevant organizations).
Task 2. Based on the review performed in Task 1, identify, describe, evaluate, and rank available and potential practices and technologies for warning, detecting, and preventing trespassing in the vicinity of highway-rail grade crossings and recommend those meriting consideration.
Task 3. For each of the practices and technologies recommended in Task 2, identify the weaknesses that require further research and recommend research projects to address these weaknesses. For each project, provide a brief description that includes concise statements of the project objective and the proposed work.
Task 4. Prepare a final deliverable that documents the entire research effort.
STATUS: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP. The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.