Human factors evaluation of a novel Australian approach for activating railway level crossings

Larue, Gregoire S. & Wullems, Christian (2015) Human factors evaluation of a novel Australian approach for activating railway level crossings. Procedia Manufacturing, 3, pp. 3293-3300.

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There are currently 23,500 level crossings in Australia, broadly divided active level crossings with flashing lights; and passive level crossings controlled by stop and give way signs. The current strategy is to annually upgrade passive level crossings with active controls within a given budget, but the 5,900 public passive crossings are too numerous to be upgraded all. The rail industry is considering alternative options to treat more crossings. One of them is to use lower cost equipment with reduced safety integrity level, but with a design that would fail to a safe state: in case of the impossibility for the system to know whether a train is approaching, the crossing changes to a passive crossing. This is implemented by having a STOP sign coming in front of the flashing lights. While such design is considered safe in terms of engineering design, questions remain on human factors. In order to evaluate whether such approach is safe, we conducted a driving simulator study where participants were familiarized with the new active crossing, before changing the signage to a passive crossing. Our results show that drivers treated the new crossing as an active crossing after the novelty effect had passed. While most participants did not experience difficulties with the crossing being turned back to a passive crossing, a number of participants experienced difficulties stopping in time at the first encounter of such passive crossing. Worse, a number of drivers never realized the signage had changed, highlighting the link between the decision to brake and stop at an active crossing to the lights flashing. Such results show the potential human factor issues of changing an active crossing to a passive crossing in case of failure of the detection of the train.

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ID Code: 86659
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: railway level crossings, driver behaviour, safety
DOI: 10.1016/j.promfg.2015.07.406
ISBN: 2351-9789
ISSN: 2351-9789
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
Facilities: CARRS-Q Advanced Driving Simulator
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Elsevier B.V.
Deposited On: 15 Sep 2015 22:01
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2016 06:09

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