A comparison of compliant and non-Compliant decision making at actively controlled rail level crossings using the decision ladder
Collisions at rail level crossings (RLXs) present an ongoing major challenge for both road and rail safety organisations. Previous research has made little systematic attempt to understand road user decision making at RLXs, with most research relying on observational studies of single road user groups only. In this exploratory study, we applied Rasmussen’s (1974) decision ladder (DL) for the first time in the RLX safety context to compare the decision making processes used during compliant and non-compliant encounters at RLXs. The data used to populate the DL was derived from a two-week diary study in which four groups of road users (drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians) described their encounters with actively controlled RLXs when a train was approaching. Ninety-five road users made a total of 247 crossings, 11.7 % of which were non-compliant (n = 29). Overall, the decision making processes differed between compliant and non-compliant encounters. On non-compliant encounters road users were least concerned with safety, based their decision making on a much smaller component of the RLX system, and proceeded further along the DL (i.e., considered multiple courses of action). The results of this study may have important implications for RLX designs, but firstly should be validated using larger samples of non-compliant encounters.