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Reduction of speed limit at approaches to railway level crossings in WA.

Radalj, T, Kidd, B, Sultana, S

General

ACRS conference 2011

A speed limit reduction study has been undertaken to assess effectiveness of lower speed limits on driver speed behaviour at the approaches to railway level crossings on high speed roads in WA. The sample consisted of 7 railway crossings of which 2 were controlled by boom barriers and 5 by flashlights on 110 km/h roads.

The proposed trial involves the reduction of the speed limit from 110 km/h to 80 km/h over 600m around each crossing. The speed measurements were taken at 5 locations in the vicinity of the crossings, at open road sections approximately 1 km from the crossing, at the approach to the railway level crossing warning signage, and at the crossing itself.

The analysis of baseline speed data demonstrated some noticeable relative differences in mean speeds between the observation points. The difference in the mean speed at an open road section and the mean speed at the crossing was estimated at 7 km/h, 104 and 97 km/h, respectively. Correspondingly, the non-compliance over the observed road section sections ranged between 27% on the open road section and 13% at the crossing. Likewise, proportions of vehicles travelling 10 or more km/h above the speed limit were approximately 5% at open road section and 2% at the crossing.

From the observed differences in vehicle speed indices between the three locations at the approaching road section it can be inferred that on average drivers do change their travel speeds as a result of perceived hazard associated with the railway level crossing. However, if the magnitudes in the differences in speed indices significantly changed after the reduction in the speed limit to 80 km/h it can be inferred that the driver alertness to the hazard had improved, not only due to the railway level crossing signage but to the compliance to the reduced speed limit at the approach to and exit from the railway level crossing, and therefore the risk of colliding with the oncoming train would also be significantly decreased.