When a locomotive engineer sees a vehicle on the track, it's already too late. At 55 mph, it can take a mile or more to stop a train after the emergency brakes have been applied. And at 200 tons, the end result is nothing short of devastating. Even with flashing lights and bells, often road conditions are poor with reduced visibility due to intense fog, blinding snow or torrential rain.
To reduce collisions, a wireless receiver/transmitter methodology is employed at the level crossing alerting the driver that a train is approaching. The alert would be received by the vehicle’s audio system or the centre monitor panel — giving clear and ample warning of impending danger. This has the potential to save hundreds of lives.
Disruptive technology that can prevent tragedy and is cost-effective
Train Early Detection System (TEDS)
A typical morning rush hour in Ottawa, Ontario turned tragic on September 18, 2013, when a bus went through the lowered railway crossing gates straight into a passenger train. Six people died, 34 were injured.
Sadly, this is a surprisingly frequent occurrence.
The current approach is not sustainable
The most effective solution would be to eliminate all grade crossings [separating the rail line from the road]. But considering the fact that there are 153,000 public rail crossings between Canada and the U.S., and the cost to eliminate just one crossing is $40 million, this is not economically feasible for any jurisdiction.
The other current safety measures such as flashing lights ($30,000) or flashing lights and gates ($150,000) are primarily installed in urban locations since rural areas simply do not have the tax base to support these expenditures. This leaves most crossings without an active warning signal.
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In Canada there are just over 17,000 public rail crossings—17% have gates, 22% just have bells and lights, and the remaining 61% have a white, reflective X crossing sign which at times is accompanied by a stop sign.
In the U.S., the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) latest figures (2009) indicate there are 136,041 public rail crossings—31% have gates, 16% have flashing lights and 1% have highway traffic signals, wigwags and bells. The remaining 52% have a yellow and black crossbuck.
The cascading effect of tragedy
The obvious and most horrific part of this type of event is the loss of human life. There is no value that can be placed on that. Then there are the families, first responders, and train crew that have also been exposed to a traumatic situation. Besides the emotional toll, there are the associated costs involved in recovery as well as potential lost income.
On the commercial side, manufacturing that relies on just-in-time delivery now must face delayed shipments, reduced productivity, rescheduling of work and costly penalties. Finally, there are the lawsuits.
U.S. - Collisions/ Fatalities and Injuries
Canada - Collisions/ Fatalities and Injuries
The facts are staggering
Do active warning devices at crossings help?
Approximately 50% of vehicle/train collisions occur at crossings with active warning devices (gates, lights, bells).
Car manufacturers who are early adopters will have a strategic competitive advantage in the continually evolving connected car market. Rail companies and the institutions who rely on them will experience increased safety records, productivity improvements and cost savings.
Most importantly, DataMotive saves lives.