The science and technology used in highway crossings in the United States and around the world have come a long way from a single flagman sitting in a booth, equipped with a red flag or lantern in his hand, to clear tracks and stop pedestrians, horses, and or a motor coaches for an approaching train to a fully automatic warning system requiring limited monthly testing. Today’s highway crossings are monitored by railways and municipalities such that, any changes in railway or roadway traffic conditions can be scrutinized. These changes, an increase in train or vehicle traffic, may trigger the need for additional protection devices to be implemented to make highway crossings safer for all; passing trains, motorists and pedestrians. But, are these requirements enough to eliminate accidents.
Historically speaking, these accidents range from; failures with the activation of the warning system; distracted motorists or motorists not willing to comply to the warning; pedestrians rushing to beat the train while underestimating the trains speed or; fully knowing and willing to not stop at the flashing lights and gates and willing to take the risk and go around flashing gates. This paper will investigate the current and future technologies that are being tested and implemented on highway crossings as well as look into the predictive behavior of motorists and pedestrians as they approach crossings and how changes can be implemented to maximize the effectiveness of a highway crossing. Key elements from various studies will be included that have been suggested through analyzing driver’s behavior at highway crossings, as well as the additional technologies that have and can be implemented to provide additional warnings to alert motorist of trains approaching.