Australians less cautious at railway crossings than normal road intersections

Don Gribble 16 November 2017 NEWS

Country level crossing

Drivers are not slowing down enough at level crossings.

A study by researchers at Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety has revealed that drivers are less cautious when approaching railway crossings than when they are approaching normal road intersections.

The study found that drivers approach railway level crossings at significantly faster speeds than they do when approaching road intersections, forcing them to stop more abruptly if a train is approaching.

They also spend less time assessing railway crossings, in some instances making preparations to stop less than half the distance away from a railway crossing as they would normally do at a road intersection.

The study also found drivers fail to adapt their driving behaviour at night, even though reduced visibility makes it harder to identify the presence of railway crossings and the actions required to negotiate them safely.

With around 70 railway level crossing collisions occurring every year in Australia and the majority of them resulting in fatalities, the study’s initiator Dr Gregoire Larue has called for greater understanding of driver behaviour when approaching level crossings.

The results of the QUT study were presented at the 2017 Australasian Road Safety Conference in Perth earlier this month and Dr Larue hopes this will lead to the development of new initiatives designed to improve level crossing safety, such as active warnings for level crossings without lights or boom gates.

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