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Research Project

Pedestrian/Bicyclist Warning Devices and Signs at Highway-Rail and Pathway-Rail Grade Crossings

Pedestrian safety at grade crossings

Study into safety at railroad grade crossings.

Principal Investigator
Metaxatos, Paul
Start Date
End Date
Research Area(s)
Funding Source
Illinois Department of Transportation, CN Railway


More powerful messages from local governments and agencies and greater consistency in the design of warning devices are among the tactics needed to help reduce incidents of pedestrians and cyclists from being struck by freight and passenger trains at grade crossings.  Those are two key findings from the study, "Pedestrian/Bicyclist Warning Devices and Signs at Highway-Rail and Pathway-Rail Grade Crossings.” Researchers concluded that increased education and enforcement from municipalities and transit providers would help build greater awareness and convince pedestrians and cyclists that: It’s illegal to cross railroad tracks while signals or devices are activated; and, it’s considered trespassing to cross at locations outside a designated pedestrian crossing. A review of signage and electronic warning devices nationwide showed “a distinct lack of standards to analyze/quantify pedestrian risk and design effective treatments to reduce the risk to pedestrians of being struck by a train.” Findings revealed many crossings had in place Manual or Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) that complied with federal standards, while “a large number of non-compliant MUTCD signs and devices” are in use. The objectives of the study, were twofold: 1) Identify relevant themes, issues and ways to improve safety. 2) Analyze the attitudes and behavior of pedestrians.  Download the complete study, "Pedestrian/Bicyclist Warning Devices and Signs at Highway-Rail and Pathway-Rail Grade Crossings.”