Drivers’ Visual Scanning and Head Check Behavior on Approach to Urban Rail Level Crossings
Authors: Kristie L. Younga, Michael G. Lennéa, Vanessa Beanlandb, Paul M. Salmonc, Neville A. Stantond
Abstract: Rail level crossings in urban areas are often located in areas of high visual clutter such as busy shopping strip areas. The impact of such visual clutter on drivers’ behavior and compliance with level crossing controls is not well understood. This study examines drivers’ visual scanning behavior on approach to five urban rail level crossings located in shopping strips. Twenty participants drove an instrumented vehicle around a pre-defined urban route containing a range of active (flashing light with boom barriers) rail level crossings. Drivers' eye glance and head check behavior during the 150 meter approach to each crossing was coded from video. Results revealed that drivers direct their visual attention off the forward roadway to a range of areas inside and outside the vehicle when approaching the crossing, with around 10 percent of glance fixations made to areas away from the forward roadway and the level crossing. Drivers made very few head checks of the crossing on approach, suggesting that they are heavily reliant on the crossing signals to alert them to the presence of a train. This study provides important insight into drivers’ visual behavior on approach to urban level crossings located in areas of high visual demand.
Keywords: Rail level crossing safety; On-Road Study; Instrumented Vehicle; Visual scanning; Head checks
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