Evaluation Of An Automated Horn Warning System At Three Highway-Railroad Grade Crossings In Ames, Iowa
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Evaluation Of An Automated Horn Warning System At Three Highway-Railroad Grade Crossings In Ames, Iowa

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      Traditionally, locomotive engineers begin sounding the train horn approximately 1/4 mi (0.4 km) from the crossing to warn motorists and pedestrians approaching the intersection. To be heard over this distance, the train horn must be very loud. This combination of loud horns and the length along the tracks that the horn is sounded creates a large area adversely impacted by the horn noise. In urban areas, this area likely includes many nearby residents. The automated horn system provides a similar audible warning to motorists and pedestrians by using two stationary horns mounted at the crossing. Each horn directs its sound toward the approaching roadway. The horn system is activated using the same track signal circuitry as the gate arms and bells located at the crossing. Once the horn is activated, a strobe light begins flashing to inform the locomotive engineer that the horn is working. The purpose of this research was twofold: 1) to determine the effectiveness of the automated horn system in reducing the annoyance level for nearby residents; and 2) to determine the overall safety at the crossings with the new automated horn warning system. The research included collecting horn volume data to develop noise level contour maps, using before-and-after surveys to document opinions of nearby residents and motorists and a survey of locomotive engineers to document their perception of the new systems.
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