The United States Department of Transportation’s (US DOT) Research and Innovative Technology Administration’s John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center), under the direction of the US DOT Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Office of Research and Development (R&D), is leveraging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sponsored Integrated Vehicle Based Safety System (IVBSS) Light Vehicle (LV) Field Operational Test (FOT) to collect and analyze drivers’ activities at or on approach to highway-rail grade crossings. Grade crossings in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio were cross-referenced with IVBSS LV FOT research vehicle location to identify the time research vehicles were present at a crossing. The IVBSS LV FOT included 108 participants that took a total of 22,656 trips. Of the 22,656 total trips, 3,137 trips included a total of 4,215 grade crossing events.

The analysis was based of drivers’ activities at the 4,215 grade crossing events. Both looking behavior and distractions did not significantly differ based on gender. However when analyzed per age-group, younger drivers (between 20 to 30 years old) were significantly more likely to be distracted than middle-aged drivers (between 40 to 50 years old) or older drivers (between 60 to 70 years old). For looking behavior, the data revealed that older drivers are more likely to look at least one way at or on approach to highway-rail crossing (43.8 percent exhibited this behavior) than either middle-aged drivers (35.0 percent exhibited this behavior) or younger drivers (25.3 percent exhibited this behavior).

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