The Impact of Removing Centerline Barriers from Highway-Rail Grade Crossings on Drivers' Violations

Aemal Khattak, Miao Gao, Zheng Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to assess changes in drivers' unsafe maneuvers after removal of a centerline barrier installed at a dual-quadrant gated highway-rail grade crossing to improve safety. Such barriers limit drivers' ability to pass around closed dual-quadrant gates, thereby reducing the possibility of motor vehicle collisions with trains. Highway safety-related appurtenances installed as countermeasures are usually left in place for extended periods, and the effects of their removal are not well researched. The removal of a barrier installed along the road centerline at a highway-rail grade crossing in Nebraska provided the opportunity to investigate the accompanying changes in drivers' violations. Analysis of data collected before and after removal of the barrier showed that unsafe driver maneuvers increased after removal of the barrier. Specifically, passing around dual-quadrant gates with an oncoming train and making U turns to drive away from the closed crossing increased. The conclusion is that barrier removal contributed to the increase in unsafe driver maneuvers at the studied highway-rail grade crossing. Although limited in scope, this study lends credibility to the practice of not removing an effective countermeasure once installed, though regular maintenance is a requisite for continued effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-307
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Transportation Safety and Security
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • before-after study
  • driver maneuvers
  • driving behavior
  • highway-rail grade crossing
  • safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transportation
  • Safety Research


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