Potential of auxiliary strobe lights on train locomotives to improve level crossing safety

Anne Silla (Corresponding Author), Annika Dressler, Esko Lehtonen, Ari Virtanen, Johannes Mesimäki, Jan Grippenkoven

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


Inattentiveness of road users on approach to passive railway crossings represents a major threat to level crossing safety. An auxiliary strobe light system installed on trains in addition to existing headlights may help address this issue by providing an ergonomic way of attracting human attention to the level crossing and to the train. The objective of this paper was to investigate the ergonomics and safety potential of auxiliary strobe light systems. A system was implemented on a real railway vehicle and in the virtual environment of a driving simulator. Acceptance of the system, including its usefulness and perceived benefits and drawbacks, as well as its objective effectiveness, were evaluated using questionnaires, behavioural measures, and eye tracking. The safety potential of the system was evaluated with respect to fatal level crossing accidents. The auxiliary strobe lights were preferred over normal lights and were rated as useful, reducing driving speeds, increasing visual scanning at level crossings, and thus aiding detection of a train. The system has the potential to prevent 6–30% of level crossing accidents in Europe. The results suggest that it might be worthwhile to test auxiliary strobe lights in a larger scale real-world experiment. Especially on railway lines with a high number of passive level crossings, this system can be expected to increase safety by supporting timely detection by road users and preventing accidents caused by inattentiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103767
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


The research was funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement n° 72305 (SAFER-LC) and participating partners.


  • train visibility
  • lights
  • level crossing
  • safety
  • Level crossing
  • Train visibility
  • Lights
  • Safety


Dive into the research topics of 'Potential of auxiliary strobe lights on train locomotives to improve level crossing safety'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this