Contributing factors of crash injury severity at public highway-railroad grade crossings in the U.S

J Safety Res. 2015 Jun;53:23-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2015.03.005. Epub 2015 Mar 21.


Introduction: The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) includes a separate program that supports safety improvements to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries at public highway-railroad grade crossings (HRGCs). This study identifies the significant factors affecting crash injury severity at public HRGCs in the United States.

Method: Crashes from 2009 through 2013 on 5,528 public HRGCs, extracted from the Federal Railroad Administration database, were used in the analysis. A comprehensive list of risk factors was explored. Examples include predictors related to geographic region of crash, geometry (e.g., area type and pavement marking type), railroad (e.g., warning device type and railroad class), traffic (e.g., train speed and vehicles annual average daily traffic "AADT"), highway user (e.g., driver age and gender), and environment (e.g., lighting and weather conditions). The study used the mixed logit model to better capture the complex highway user behavior at HRGCs.

Results: Female highway users were at higher risk of involvement in injuries and fatalities compared to males. Higher train speeds, very old drivers, open areas, concrete road surface types, and railroad equipment striking highway users before crash, were all found to increase the injury likelihood. On the other hand, young and middle-age drivers, non-passing of standing vehicles at HRGCs, industrial areas, and presence of warning bells were found to reduce injuries and fatalities.

Conclusions: The mixed logit model succeeded in identifying contributing factors of crash severity at public HRGCs and potential countermeasures to reduce both fatalities and injuries are suggested.

Practical applications: It is important to install warning bells at public HRGCs, especially at those with high number of injury and fatality crashes. Enforcement of traffic nearby HRGCs is necessary to prevent vehicles from overtaking of standing vehicles.

Keywords: Crash countermeasures; Crash severity; Fatality; Injury; Mixed logit model; Public highway-railroad grade crossings.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lighting
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Probability
  • Railroads / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Weather
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology*
  • Young Adult