URBAN DESIGN EVALUATIONS
Urban Car Drivers
Fifty-nine respondents (24 female, 35 male) aged between 18 and 74 years completed the urban car drivers’ survey. Of these, 22% had professional experience relevant to rail level crossing safety, with an average of 9.2 years’ work experience (range: 2-45 years).
Most respondents were aged between 35 and 54 years (66%), held a full/open driver’s licence (98%) and lived in the state of Victoria (68%). The remainder of the sample resided in Queensland (15%), New South Wales (12%), Western Australia (3%) and South Australia (2%). The sample comprised frequent users of rail level crossings, with 32% reporting that they crossed level crossings several times a month, 29% several times a week, 17% every day and 3% several times a day. Respondents reported driving an average of 248 km each week (SD = 210) with most nominating commuting (51%) as the main purpose for most of their driving.
Paired comparison analysis indicated that car drivers rated the Comprehensive Risk Control crossing highest for safety and compliance, whereas they rated the Intelligent Level Crossing highest for efficiency and preference. The Community Courtyard crossing was ranked lowest on all the four criteria.
Car drivers’ responses to the open-ended questions regarding the Comprehensive Risk Control crossing were mixed, with most respondents noting several features that they liked but also the aspects that they disliked. Only a small number reported that they did not like anything about the design. In general, respondents liked the additional warnings and controls, although no specific element of the design emerged as the most preferred. The main criticisms were that it was ‘overkill’ with too many elements, some of which were deemed unnecessary. Many drivers stated that the attendants at the crossing were unnecessary, and potentially in danger, but a small number liked the attendants and the fact that having human attendants creates job opportunities.
Responses regarding the Intelligent Level Crossing were mostly positive; however, a sizeable minority of respondents were strongly opposed to this design. Car drivers commented positively on the fact that the system provided additional warnings, provided auditory alerts and could be integrated with existing in-vehicle systems. Criticisms raised were that the system could be distracting, drivers may miss the alerts, the system may not be compatible with all vehicles and many drivers do not use in-vehicle navigation systems or do not use them regularly. Several expert respondents suggested that the information about the direction of train approach was unnecessary, and that alerts could become extremely complex (e.g. if the crossing had multiple tracks, or if the boom gates malfunctioned).
Responses to the Community Courtyard crossing were mixed, with respondents commenting positively on the aesthetics, open design, the inclusion of traffic lights, lowered speed limits, delineation provided by the raised road section and the fact that traffic was stopped far back from the rail level crossing. However, many respondents expressed concerns about safety and the potential for confusion, with several comments about the lack of boom barriers and explicit signage indicating that a rail level crossing was ahead.