Level Crossing Accidents: A Literature Survey


There is increasing interest in level crossing accidents in Australia. As a contribution to research on the subject, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau commissioned Covance Pty Ltd to undertake a literature survey, referencing material published overseas as well as in Australia. The literature survey presented here focuses on published material that explores measures that can be implemented to help prevent level crossing accidents or to improve safety at level crossings.


The bibliography is the result of searches conducted in several databases. The databases utilised are described below.


ROAD covers vehicle design and safety and road safety. Coverage also includes vehicle testing. Relevant Australian journal articles, reports, monographs, theses and conference papers are indexed, as well as all ARRB publications. Overseas literature is selectively included. Contains records from 1978 onwards.


TRIS ONLINE is a collaborative effort between the Transportation Research Board, National Research Council, National Academies, and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. Department of Transportation, to provide a public-domain, web-based version of the Transportation Research Information Services (TRIS) bibliographic database as a component of the National Transportation Library, and to enhance transportation research, safety, and operations by sharing knowledge and information.

TRIS Online provides:

  • over 420,000 bibliographic records covering transportation research published in books, journal articles, technical reports and other media
  • coverage of United States -Federal, state, local and association publications and conference proceedings
  • coverage of the literature from the 1960s to the present, with some coverage of prior years
  • selected links to full text or sources of full text
  • searching capability by author, title, subject, corporate author/publisher, journal/conference title


TRANSPORT is produced by the OECD in conjunction with the US Transportation Research Board and the European Conference of Transport. It covers journal articles, books, government publications and reports produced in OECD countries.


Although MEDLINE is essentially a medical database, it was searched as it cites publications related to public health and certain transport related journals such as Accident Analysis and Prevention.


The keywords used in the searches were appropriate to each database. The thesaurus for each database was utilised to provide relevant keywords. Keywords included but were not limited to:

  • level crossing
  • grade crossing
  • road-rail accidents
  • warning system
  • grade-separation
  • passive railway crossing
  • active railway crossing
  • grade crossing protection systems
  • safety programs
  • signals
  • technology assessment


The searches concentrated on level crossing accidents involving motor vehicles; accidents involving pedestrians were excluded. Due to the large number of studies on level crossing accidents, the searches were limited to English language studies from the last ten years (ie 1990-2001). This still resulted in large numbers of publications being found in each search. It was impossible to include every publication found due to resource constraints. For example a search on “level crossing” and “accidents” in ROAD located 490 articles. The article abstracts were reviewed and the articles that matched the primary focus of the search were included. Articles without abstracts were excluded, except for cases where the title was thought to reflect a focus on measures that can be implemented to help prevent level crossing accidents or to improve safety at level crossings.


An attempt was made to locate other literature, such as government publications and academic research conducted by specialised centres. A search of the web and appropriate transport related sites was conducted. Due to the vast nature of the web, it was impossible to provide an exhaustive bibliography of the available research. However, examples of the available literature are provided in this document. Hyperlinks are provided to link through to the document. At the time of compilation all the links were correct.


This document contains the full reference and abstract of each article found which was considered relevant. The articles are grouped by country of origin (Australia, United States, Europe, Japan, New Zealand) and sorted in reverse publication year order (ie most recent first). Within publication year they are sorted alphabetically. Web articles form a separate group at the end of this document.