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Abstract

Railway highway grade crossing safety has always been a concern for railroads, state DOTs, and the driving population. This paper presents an overview of drivers’ behavior at different passive warning sign systems present at a selected number of Kansas railroad-highway grade crossings. Emphasis in this study was on drivers’ stopping behavior at the STOP signs, as that has been a major concern of Kansas DOT (KDOT). A field study was conducted on nine grade crossings with selected warning devices to determine driver’s approach behavior, particularly stopping behavior at STOP signs. Various statistical analysis and comparisons are done for stopping of heavy trucks, school buses and other vehicles at crossings with both poor and good sight distance on their approaches. Based on the field tests conducted it was found that the majority of drivers did not stop at the STOP signs at the grade crossings. A higher percentage of drivers actually stopped at crossings with poor sight distance on the approach than on approaches with good sight distance. The use of the STOP sign at passive grade crossings has been controversial for several decades. This paper presents a brief history of their use and the controversy. Based on this limited study, the authors recommended that a STOP sign should not be used at grade crossings without a valid engineering study that includes an evaluation of the sight distance.

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