Impact of Waiting Times on Risky Driver Behaviour at Railway Level Crossings
Increased road and rail traffic in Australia results in actively protected crossings being closed for extended periods of time during peak hours. This results in road congestion. It is known that extended periods of warning/waiting times at level crossings have impacts on drivers’ decision making in regards to violating crossing rules. Excessive waiting times could lead to non-compliant behaviour by motorists, resulting in incidents, including injuries and fatalities. However, the correlation between waiting time and rule violation is not well documented, although it is known that a range of personal and environmental factors influence rule non-compliance. This leads to the question of whether longer waiting times affect motorists’ assessment of risk and how long motorists are prepared to wait at level crossings before undertaking risky behaviour. A driving simulator study was used to obtain objective measures of railway level crossing (RLX) rule violations. Sixty participants completed six driving tasks each, with the tasks varying in terms of waiting times. Compliance with road rules at the level crossing during the simulated drives was examined. Main results include that increased waiting times result in increased likelihood of risky driving behaviour, particularly for waiting times longer than three minutes. Risky driving behaviours included entering the activated crossing before boom gates are down; entering the crossing after the train passage but before signals are deactivated; and stopping/reversing on the crossing. The results suggest that, where possible, waiting times should be standardized at values lower than three minutes in order to reduce the likelihood of risky road user behaviour.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation (ACRI) for funding this research (Project LC/7-8).
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