Variability in decision-making and critical cue use by different road users at rail level crossings

Vanessa Beanland, Michael G. Lenné, Paul M. Salmon, Neville A. Stanton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Collisions at rail level crossings (RLXs) are typically high-severity and high-cost, often involving serious injuries, fatalities and major disruptions to the transport network. Most research examining behaviour at RLXs has focused exclusively on drivers and consequently there is little knowledge on how other road users make decisions at RLXs. We collected drivers’, motorcyclists’, bicyclists’ and pedestrians’ self-reported daily experiences at RLXs for two weeks, focusing on behaviour, decision-making and information use in the presence of a train and/or activated RLX signals. Both information use and behaviour differed between road users. Visual information (e.g. flashing lights) was more influential for motorists, whereas pedestrians and cyclists relied more on auditory information (e.g. bells). Pedestrians were also more likely to violate active RLX warnings and/or cross before an approaching train. These results emphasise the importance of adopting holistic RLX design approaches that support cognition and behaviour across for all road users. Practitioner Summary: This study explores how information use and decision-making at rail level crossings (RLXs) differ between road user groups, using a two-week self-report study. Most users make safe decisions, but pedestrians are most likely to violate RLX warnings. Information use (visual vs. auditory) also differs substantially between road user groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)754-766
Number of pages13
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2016


  • decision-making
  • grade crossings
  • Rail level crossings
  • situation awareness

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