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Hurry up and wait : danger signals in the rail environment
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 authored by Anjum NaweedAnjum Naweed
Background: In train driving, a signal passed at danger (SPAD) event is a significant mode of safe working failure that has implications for network safety, rail service delivery, and train driver welfare. Human-error related SPAD outcomes are frequently attributed to driver distraction, but very little rail research has sought to explore distractors that not only divert attention, but also subvert the regulation of safety-performance goals. Aim: The aim of this paper was to provide a better understanding of SPAD-risk factors from the perspective of task-related distraction in passenger train drivers operating in Australia and New Zealand. Method: Data were collected using a qualitative methodology that combined focus groups with a novel and generative technique designed to stimulate situational insight. In total, twenty-eight train drivers participated from 8 different passenger rail organisations. Data were analysed in a combined deductive and inductive thematic framework. Results: The data revealed several common risk factors to train driver distraction consistent with misprioritised attention. The experience of time-keeping pressure and station dwelling created tensions between safety and performance. These issues interacted with sighting restrictions to disconnect the driver from their route knowledge. Conclusion: The findings implicated significant SPAD-risk from task-related distraction, and suggested the experience of distraction was intensified when time-keeping pressure, station dwelling and sighting restrictions converged.