Direct and Indirect Effects of Nebraska Motor Vehicle Drivers’ Characteristics on Inattentive Driving at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings

Shanshan Zhao, Aemal J. Khattak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research investigated the direct and indirect effects of the characteristics of motor vehicle drivers in Nebraska, including their socioeconomic characteristics, safe driving knowledge, and attitudes to inattentive driving at highway–rail grade crossings (HRGCs). A random statewide mail survey of drivers aged 19 years or older provided the data analyzed in this research. The use of a structural equation model (SEM) enabled identification of direct and indirect effects among the variables. Conclusions were that drivers’ attitudes toward safety issues at HRGCs had both direct and indirect effects on drivers’ inattentive behavior. Drivers’ intent to violate or obey driving regulations indirectly influenced driver inattention. Their overall knowledge of safely negotiating HRGCs did not directly affect inattentive driving, but it indirectly affected inattentive driving through interference with drivers’ intent to violate or obey regulations. Drivers’ perceptions of delay, safety, clarity, and reliability indirectly affected their inattentive behavior. Variables associated with fewer instances of inattentive driving included: positive attitudes toward safety issues at HRGCs; lower intent to violate (or greater intent to obey) driving rules at HRGCs; less frequent use of HRGCs; higher perceptions of the safety, reliability, and so forth of local HRGCs; older drivers (≥60); better knowledge of safely negotiating HRGCs; lower educational levels; male drivers; lower income households (<US$30 k per year); and longer residency in the current city. Safety information dissemination, high household income (>US$100 k per year), and younger drivers had direct effects on drivers’ safe driving knowledge and could lead to higher overall knowledge levels of safely negotiating HRGCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-61
Number of pages14
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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