From interfaces to infrastructure: extending ecological interface design to re-design rail level crossings

Gemma J. M. Read, Vanessa Beanland, Neville A. Stanton, Eryn Grant, Nicholas Stevens, Michael G. Lenné, Miles Thomas, Christine M. Mulvihill, Guy H. Walker, Paul M. Salmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
89 Downloads (Pure)


Collisions between trains and road vehicles at rail level crossings remain an intractable transport safety issue. This paper describes the application of Rasmussen’s ecological interface design (EID) principles to the development of a novel ‘passive’ rail level crossing prototype design and its evaluation using two driving simulator studies. Study 1 involved the design of the prototype EID crossing. Study 2 compared the EID crossing design with a standard ‘active’ rail level crossing with red flashing lights under normal conditions and Study 3 compared the crossings under conditions of driver distraction and technology failure. The findings show that under normal conditions, the EID crossing produced more cautious speed on approach than the standard design, but similar patterns of decision-making. Under conditions of distraction and failure, participants again demonstrated more cautious speed profiles on approach when encountering the EID design. Importantly, in technology failure conditions, the EID design appeared to encourage participants to engage in higher level problem-solving, which was not seen in response to the standard crossing. It is concluded that the EID crossing may be more able to support adaptive decision-making under conditions of failure or uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3–21
Number of pages19
JournalCognition, Technology and Work
Early online date1 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Driving simulation
  • Ecological interface design
  • Highway-rail grade crossings
  • Rail level crossings
  • Transportation safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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