A self-report study of factors influencing decision-making at rail level crossings: comparing car drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians

Vanessa Clare Beanland, Michael Graeme Lenne, Paul Matthew Salmon, Neville Anthony Stanton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


Collisions at rail level crossings (RLXs) represent a major challenge for both road safety and rail safety professionals. RLX collisions are typically high-severity and high-cost, often involving multiple injuries and/or fatalities as well as major disruptions to the transportation network. Most research examining road users? behaviour at RLXs has focused exclusively on drivers and consequently there is little existing knowledge on how other road users make decisions at RLXs. We designed a longitudinal survey to prospectively record interactions at RLXs over a two-week period. The sample included 166 adults residing in metropolitan Melbourne (80 ) and regional Victoria (20 ), with a mix of car drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Respondents completed the survey daily and provided a detailed account of any encounters with trains and/or activated RLX warnings, with the survey prompts based on a cognitive task analysis methodology. The results reveal that both experiences and behaviour at RLXs differ substantially across different road users. Visual information (e.g., flashing lights) emerged as one of the most influential factors for car drivers and motorcyclists, whereas pedestrians and to a lesser extent cyclists relied more on auditory information (e.g., bells) to alert them to the presence of a train. Pedestrians were also more likely than other road users to speed up and cross the tracks ahead of an approaching train. Overall these results emphasise the importance of designing road systems to support cognition and behaviour across a range of road users, in order to ensure a safe system for all.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2013 Australasian Road Safety Research, Policing and Education Conference
EditorsNerida Leal
Place of PublicationCanberra
PublisherAustralasian College of Road Safety
Pages1 - 11
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventAustralasian Road Safety Research, Policing and Education Conference 2013 - Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 28 Aug 201330 Aug 2013


ConferenceAustralasian Road Safety Research, Policing and Education Conference 2013
Abbreviated titleARSRPE 2013

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