Improving Road Safety and Residential Quality of Life: Evaluating the Automated Wayside Horn System
Source: Applied Health Economics and Health Policy, Volume 3, Number 2, 2004 , pp. 71-78(8)
Publisher: Adis International
Abstract:The automated wayside horn system is designed to replace the train horn as a means of alerting motorists to danger and thus enhancing safety at highway-rail grade crossings. Furthermore, the wayside horn directionality is such that the warning sound is broadcast over a smaller sector than the train horn, thereby reducing residential noise. This article examines the results of an evaluation comparing train horns with wayside horns in the village of Mundelein, Illinois, USA. The study derived from previous work in Gering, Nebraska, and Ames, Iowa.During the 3 months covering the before (train horn) period and through to after (wayside horn), more than 19 500 crossing gate closures were recorded on videotape at three crossings. Analysis showed motorist violation of level-crossing laws decreased 68%, from an average rate of 3.53 per 100 gate closings when train horns were in use to 1.12 per 100 with the wayside horn. The decrease was statistically significant. Of equal importance was the decrease in residential noise. Sound measurements taken in a sample of residential yards showed a decrease in sound levels by more than 10 decibels (dB) at most locations. When plotted as sound contours, decreases in the area of coverage ranged from 85% at the 90dB level to 65% at the 70dB level.However, there are two issues with the use of wayside horns that need to be resolved. First, and most important, is that the wayside horn starts sounding when the warning lights begin to flash. This startles motorists, and some stop on the rail tracks. A second issue is the frequent unwarranted activation of the system, which encourages people to ignore the gate.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2004-01-01
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