Approximately 40% of pedestrians and bicyclists in the Chicagoland area say they at least occasionally ignore railroad-crossing warning signs—in some cases, they would even go so far as to walk around a gate designed to keep them off the tracks. While federal reporting shows a marked decrease in train–vehicle collisions in the past decade, the number of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities at railroad crossings has remained constant. These fatalities occur in spite of efforts to educate pedestrians and bicyclists and increase police enforcement.
The aim of the project titled “Pedestrian/Bicyclist Warning Devices and Signs at Highway-Rail and Pathway-Rail Grade Crossings” (R27-096) was to help provide more effective warnings to pedestrians and cyclists. Co-principal investigator Paul Metaxatos of the University of Illinois at Chicago explains that to achieve this goal, it was necessary to understand the reasons pedestrians and bicyclists do not comply with warning signs.