A large scale quantitative study of pedestrian railway level crossing behaviour : deliberate violations, errors and deterrence

Freeman, James E., McMaster, Mitchell, Rakotonirainy, Andry, & Stefanova, Teodora (2013) A large scale quantitative study of pedestrian railway level crossing behaviour : deliberate violations, errors and deterrence. In 10th World Congress on Railway Research, 25 to 28 of November 2013, Sydney, NSW.

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Every year a number of pedestrians are struck by trains resulting in death and serious injury. While much research has been conducted on train-vehicle collisions, very little is currently known about the aetiology of train-pedestrian collisions. To date, scant research has been undertaken to investigate the demographics of rule breakers, the frequency of deliberate violation versus error making and the influence of the classic deterrence approach on subsequent behaviours.


This study aimed to to identify pedestrians’ self-reported reasons for engaging in violations at crossing, the frequency and nature of rule breaking and whether the threat of sanctions influence such events.


A questionnaire was administered to 511 participants of all ages.


Analysis revealed that pedestrians (particularly younger groups) were more likely to commit deliberate violations rather than make crossing errors e.g., mistakes. The most frequent reasons given for deliberate violations were participants were running late and did not want to miss their train or participants believed that the gate was taking too long to open so may be malfunctioning. In regards to classical deterrence, an examination of the perceived threat of being apprehended and fined for a crossing violation revealed participants reported the highest mean scores for swiftness of punishment, which suggests they were generally aware that they would receive an “on the spot” fine. However, the overall mean scores for certainty and severity of sanctions (for violating the rules) indicate that the participants did not perceive the certainty and severity of sanctions as very high. This paper will further discuss the research findings in regards to the development of interventions designed to improve pedestrian crossing safety.

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ID Code: 63772
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: railway crossing, pedestrian, violations, errors, deterrence
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 [please consult the author]
Deposited On: 05 Nov 2013 00:03
Last Modified: 07 Jan 2014 04:09

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