A Ten Year Review of Light Rail Crash Patterns Based on Alignment and Operational Configuration Type

This paper presents an analysis of crashes between motor vehicles and light rail vehicles at light rail crossings that occurred on nine transit systems that have been in continuous operation for the years 2000 through 2009 and that responded to requests for crash data. No pedestrian or bicycle crashes were included in the analysis. The crash data is analyzed on the basis of both light rail alignment and configuration and crash rates for various alignment and/or configurations are compared to the crash rate for the entire dataset. As used in this paper, alignment refers to how the light rail line is separated from motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic, and configuration refers to the track position and running direction relative to motor vehicle traffic. The analysis includes a comparison of motor versus light rail vehicle crashes that occur at median running, side running, and perpendicular running configurations. In particular, the paper examines crashes with left-turning and right-turning motor vehicles that occur at median running and side running configurations, and discusses left-turning treatments currently in use on specific median running 14 configurations. This analysis indicates that neither a median running nor side running configuration is more effective from a vehicle crash mitigation perspective, whereas a perpendicular running configuration appears to mitigate the crash rate at crossings. The paper concludes with recommendations for further analyses needed on these topics.

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