Train-Vehicle Collision at Railroad Crossing

Background

An inexperienced automobile driver approached a railroad crossing he had crossed several times prior to the accident.  The driver reported that he did not hear the train as it was approaching the crossing. Reportedly, the driver did not look in either direction and did not stop at a posted stop sign located near the tracks. Rather, he proceeded to cross the tracks in where his vehicle was struck by the oncoming train. 

Services Provided

A Rimkus human factors expert was retained to assist in the auditory scene recreation of the incident and determine “what someone would have heard” prior to the accident.  The human factors expert evaluated how much sound would have reached the driver of the vehicle approaching the tracks and whether the driver would have been sufficiently alerted by the train horn.  With the use of an artificial head and a binaural sound recording and playback system, aurally accurate sound data from an approaching train was recorded from inside an exemplar vehicle under conditions similar to the incident.  This system was then utilized to depict the sound that would have been available to be heard by a person in the accident environment.  This aurally accurate sound data was presented to the jury at trial.

National Practice Leaders

Dirk E. Smith

Ph.D., P.E., ACTAR

Senior Vice President, Transportation and Products Division