The influence of sustained attention on railway accidents

Graham D. Edkins, Clare M. Pollock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Citations (Scopus)


Train accidents and near accidents occurring over a 3-year period were examined within an Australian public rail authority. Retrospective analysis of 112 incidents according to Reason's (1992) Generic Error Modelling System (Reason, 1992, Human Error. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge), revealed a propensity of skill based errors across the more common types of rail mishaps. In agreement with previous rail research, sustained attention was the most salient contributing human factor across all incident types, particularly inattentiveness to railway signals. The unfavourable nature of the working environment and the repetitive nature of the train driving task are discussed in light of reducing attentional deficits. In addition, a Railway Safety Checklist was developed to identify train drivers perception of safety. One hundred and ninety train drivers indicated that staff attitude in the form of low morale was a serious problem in the safe conduct of their job. The results of this study imply that useful strategies for improving driver vigilance should be directed at improving the safety culture of the operating environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-539
Number of pages7
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Issue number4 SPEC.
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1997


Dive into the research topics of 'The influence of sustained attention on railway accidents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this