Effects of Driver Familiarity and Prolonged or Intermittent Right-Side Failure on Level Crossing Safety
Authors: Christian Wullems, Narelle Haworth, Gregoire Larue, Andrew Haines, Matthew Gildersleeve
Abstract: This paper investigates the adverse effects of familiarity and human factors issues associated with the reliability of low-cost warning devices at level crossings. The driving simulator study featured a repetitive, low workload, monotonous driving task in which there were no failures of the level crossing (control) or prolonged or intermittent right-side failures (where the device reverts to a safe failure mode). The results of the experiment provided mixed support for the familiarity hypothesis. Four of the 23 participants collided with the train when it first appeared on trial 10 but safety margins increased from the first train to the next presentation of a train (trial 12). Contrary to expectations, the safety margins decreased with repeated right-side failure only for the intermittent condition. The limited head movement data showed that participants in the prolonged failure condition were more likely to turn their head to check for trains in the right-side failure trials than in earlier trials where there was no signal and no train. Few control participants turned their head to check for trains when no signal was presented. This research highlights the need to consider repetitive tasks and workload in experimental design and accident investigation at railway level crossings.
Keywords: Railway Level Crossing, Driver Behavior, Right-Side Failure, Simulation
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