Drivers are less cautious at railway crossings

October 11, 2017, Queensland University of Technology
Credit: Queensland University of Technology

Drivers aren't as cautious approaching a railway level crossing compared to a road intersection despite the greater risk of fatality if a collision occurs, a new QUT study has found.

The results of the research will be presented at the 2017 Australasian Road Safety Conference being held in Perth today.

Dr Gregoire Larue, from QUT's Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Queensland (CARRS-Q), has found approach level crossings at significantly faster speeds than road intersections.

"We saw that drivers were preparing to stop 75 metres before the road but only 30 metres before a level crossing without lights or boom gates," he said.

"Drivers were therefore forced to stop much more abruptly at level crossings."

Another key finding of the study was that drivers spend a lot less time assessing the situation at a level crossing than they do at a intersection without traffic.

Dr Larue said this meant drivers might not adequately assess whether a train was approaching, given that trains could arrive much faster than cars, and were unable to take evasive action.

"The study also found drivers did not appropriately adapt their driving behaviour to the reduced visibility of night-time driving," Dr Larue said.

"This suggests that drivers may experience difficulty in recognising the presence of a level crossing, or identifying the actions required for the type of level they are approaching."

With about 70 collisions at railway level crossings in Australia each year and most resulting in fatalities, Dr Larue said it was essential to understand driver behaviour when approaching level crossings.

"These findings will help guide the design of initiatives to improve at level crossings. We should consider developing active advanced warnings for level crossings that don't have lights and boom gates."

The 2017 Australasian Road Safety Conference draws together experts from across the globe to share the latest in research, programs and developments with the aim of reducing injuries and deaths on our roads.

Explore further: What is a safe following distance?

Related Stories

What is a safe following distance?

October 11, 2017

Confusion over what is a "safe following distance" has QUT road safety researchers calling for a standardised definition to prevent tailgating.

Do you know the signs of being too sleepy to drive?

September 15, 2015

Drivers with tired eyes are three times more likely to cross the centre line, according to QUT research, which has pinpointed four eye symptoms to help drivers recognise the signs they are too sleepy to get behind the wheel.

Recommended for you

A novel approach of improving battery performance

September 18, 2018

New technological developments by UNIST researchers promise to significantly boost the performance of lithium metal batteries in promising research for the next-generation of rechargeable batteries. The study also validates ...

Germany rolls out world's first hydrogen train

September 17, 2018

Germany on Monday rolled out the world's first hydrogen-powered train, signalling the start of a push to challenge the might of polluting diesel trains with costlier but more eco-friendly technology.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.