Australian study finds drivers underestimate speed of approaching trains

May 27, 2016

From RT&S Magazine

Drivers can see trains approaching but cannot accurately judge their speed when proceeding through a railroad crossing, a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation collaborative study has found.Website Insert State Supported Passenger Trains copy

Dr. Gregoire Larue, a researcher with QUT’s Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q) and a research fellow at the Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation, has undertaken field tests to determine if a driver is able to make a reliable judgment to safely proceed through a crossing based on the distance a train is visible and the speed it is travelling.

“Railway crossings are designed to an Australian standard that calculates the sighting distance required to safely navigate a level crossing based on the physics of moving vehicles,” Dr. Larue said.

But he said the formula had been demonstrated to be inaccurate at high speeds for heavy vehicles and a margin of more than 15 seconds extra could be required to safely clear the crossing than what might have been allowed for in the road design.

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