Driver Behavior at Malfunctioning Crossing and Emergency Notification System Sign Awareness
The Federal Railroad Administration wants to better understand driver knowledge of and expectations for finding Emergency Notification System (ENS) signs at highway-rail grade crossings. A simulator study was designed where participants were exposed to ENS signs of different orientations (parallel and perpendicular to the tracks) and various crossing malfunctions (activation failure, false activation, and vehicle stuck on tracks). Experimenters recorded eye glance patterns and participant indications that they would have called the ENS sign number. The study revealed that drivers were more likely to glance at the ENS sign for both types of gate malfunction when the sign was positioned parallel to the tracks. Conversely, drivers were more likely to glance at the ENS sign when it was perpendicular to the tracks when they were in the Stuck on the Tracks condition. Drivers were most likely to indicate that they would call the ENS sign number in the Stuck condition with a track-perpendicular sign orientation. These findings indicate that drivers may be likely to look for the ENS sign in different locations depending on the crossing challenge encountered.