CUTR’s FDOT project Pilot Implementation for Preventing Incorrect Turns at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings won an AASHTO supplemental award in the Safety, Security, and Emergencies category.
Congratulations to the team: Pei-Sung Lin, Ph.D. (PI), Zhenyu Wang, Ph.D. (Co-PI), Abhijit Vasili, Ph.D. (former research assistant), and Runan Yang, Ph.D. (former research assistant).
Abstract: Incorrect turns onto railroad tracks may occur if a highway-rail grade crossing is close to an intersection or a freeway on-ramp. This research project aimed to evaluate three low-cost countermeasures to prevent incorrect turns onto railroad tracks: (1) elimination of potentially misleading pavement markings and signs before railroad crossings, (2) implementation of straight arrow pavement markings with guidance information before railroad crossings, and (3) installation of Qwick Kurb to prevent drivers from making intentional U-turns at railroad crossings. A surrogate safety measure, hesitation rate in the upstream of at-grade railroad crossings, was developed to represent the risk of incorrect turns onto railroad tracks. A before-after study was conducted to collect and compare the safety measure before and after implementation of proposed countermeasures at eight study sites in Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Districts 1, 4, and 7. The study results showed that (1) the replacement of continuous right-turn or left-turn arrows with straight arrows plus guidance information on pavement can effectively prevent incorrect turns onto railroad tracks; (2) the effectiveness of using straight arrows plus guidance information pavement markings before railroad crossings is more significant at night than during daytime to prevent incorrect turns of vehicles onto railroad tracks; (3) overall, the proposed countermeasures can reduce hesitation rates by 85% in daytime and 97% in nighttime, at a confidence level of 99.9%; (4) the effectiveness of straight arrows plus guidance information pavement markings may be influenced by external factors, such as upstream driveways near railroad tracks and the presence of existing countermeasures (dynamic envelope, etc.); and (5) there were zero incorrect U-turn observations after the installation of Qwick Kurb devices. Based on the research findings, the research team recommended implementation of the pavement markings of straight arrows plus guidance information pavement markings on exclusive turn lanes upstream of at-grade crossings where the risk of incorrect turns exists. Qwick Kurb is suggested to be installed at highway-rail grade crossings where frequent U-turns occur.