Impact of Train Drivers’ Cognitive Responses on Rail Accidents

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - safety/accidents, ridership - drivers


automatic train control (ATC), rail accidents, driver


Despite the innovations in automatic train control (ATC) systems to reduce the risk of driver error, many rail accidents still occur due to defects in these systems, emphasizing the essential role of the driver in preventing rail accidents and proper control of the train. This paper studies the influence of drivers’ cognitive performance, including attention and visual perception, on the occurrence of rail accidents. The research is conducted using so-called Ex-Post facto method on a random sample of 56 train drivers with a minimum of three years of experience. The research instruments included drivers’ cognition test system including WAFV (perception and attention function) sustained attention test, COG (cognitrone) selective attention test, LVT (visual pursuit) visual perception test, demographic questionnaire, and drivers’ safety history. Results of this research showed that there is no significant relationship between age and education level of train drivers, and rate of occurrence of rail accidents. A comparison on train drivers’ cognitive characteristics, between drivers with accident record(s) and those without, showed that the drivers who had experienced rail accident(s) had lower levels of sustained attention. However, no significant difference was found between the two groups in selective attention and visual perception. Investigating the association of drivers’ ages with their levels of sustained attention, the drivers with high levels of sustained attention were found to be significantly older than other drivers. According to practical implications of these findings, cognitive rehabilitation courses are recommended for train drivers to attenuate the risk of rail accidents.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SAGE, copyright remains with them.