The rail industry is encouraging all Australians to join the rest of the world when out and about today, and be safe and aware when near level and pedestrian crossings, for the sixth International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD).
TrackSAFE Foundation Board Director Bryan Nye OAM said that with incidents at level crossings still a regular occurrence in this country, the theme for this year’s ILCAD was an apt one.
“This year’s theme of "Saving Lives at Level Crossings – A price too high to pay” shines light on the serious issue of ongoing unsafe behaviour by drivers at level crossings,” said Mr Nye.
“Australia's rail network is the sixth largest in the world, with 44,000km of track and 23,500 level crossings across the network. There are around 70 collisions every year at level crossings where road users fail to obey the road rules with many ending in serious injuries or fatalities.
“There are thousands of additional near collisions every year which are a significant concern to the industry. Every near collision is just seconds away from becoming a disaster and where a large truck and fully loaded passenger train are involved, the outcome is potentially catastrophic.
“International Level Crossing Awareness Day is an impressive initiative that brings global attention to level crossing safety which continues to be one of the rail industry’s major safety concerns,” Mr Nye continued.
“Through TrackSAFE, the rail industry continues to drive education and awareness campaigns in Australia as level crossing collisions are consistently shown to be the direct result of driver behaviour and failure to observe warning signs and signals.
“Trains always have right of way and simply cannot stop quickly. It is up to road users to obey the law and respect the rules at level crossings. Spare a moment to think about the person driving the train.
“In Australia, TrackSAFE is encouraged by recent government initiatives to upgrade, or in some cases even remove, notoriously dangerous level crossings. The Victorian government, for example, has allocated $1billion in its 2014-15 Budget to upgrade dangerous level crossings and introduce grade separations.
“It’s important that along with these infrastructure improvements, also come behavioural improvements which can only be achieved through education and awareness which is what campaigns like ILCAD set out to achieve.
“We commend the organisers of ILCAD on this valuable initiative and encourage organisations across Australia and the world to support the Day,” concluded Mr Nye.