Applying a Sociotechnical Framework for Improving Safety at Highway-Railroad Grade Crossings.
To understand drivers’ decisions and actions at grade crossings, we examined human factors contributing to noncompliance at grade crossings using a sociotechnical framework. This perspective allows driver behavior at grade crossings to be examined not as individual elements but rather as a function of how each element interacts with other elements within the system. In this paper, we present a model that addresses driver decision-making at grade crossings at a systems level. We identify and describe four elements of the grade crossing system influencing driver compliance: the design of the grade crossing environment, driver characteristics, the role of organizations and management, and social and political forces. We then apply the model to identify how failure to consider safety from a systems perspective contributed to the grade crossing accident that occurred in Fox River Grove, Illinois, in 1995.