Dangers of level crossings and putting drivers 'on their bikes'
Train v car: Unequal contest. Videos put new spin on cycling. Two risk areas in focus by RSA expert
Figures from Iarnród Éireann show there were 89 incidents at level crossings around the country in the last year - which meant a vehicle, person or property being struck by a train or barrier.
It is hard to believe that people will take silly chances with trains but I'm afraid that's exactly what's happening in some parts of the country, especially at unattended level crossings.
Of the 89 incidents, 61 involved vehicles and five pedestrians; 20 incidents were classified as the most serious type, meaning the driver of the train had to apply the emergency brake to avoid a serious crash. In one incident in Dublin, a lady pushing a pram was hit by the barrier as it closed, narrowly avoiding a more serious injury. To confirm what I had written last week, about how alcohol seems to be contributory factor in all aspects of road safety, in another incident, a pedestrian under the influence was spotted on the tracks, having ignored the level crossing warning signs that a train was approaching.
Of real concern are the incidents at unattended level crossings. There are 149 unattended level crossings on roads, usually on minor or private roads where there are relatively low levels of traffic.
It is important road-users take responsibility for opening and closing the gates properly when passing through. If the gates are left open, another road-user might think it is safe to cross without due care and the consequences could be serious. It is vital we treat these crossings with extreme caution, especially unattended ones.
Trains are high-powered, high speed vehicles and in the event of a collision, the consequences for a car, motorcycle, bicycle or pedestrian could be catastrophic. The rule of thumb is to always expect a train.
Everyone who uses an unattended crossing is solely responsible for opening the gates before crossing the tracks and ensuring they are securely shut again when they have crossed to the other side.
To mark International Level Crossing Awareness Day, and to raise awareness of safety at them Irish Rail, the Commission for Railway Regulation, An Garda Siochana and the RSA have produced an online video that provides simple steps for what to do when attempting to cross an unattended crossing. It's well worth a view and you can find it by following us on one of our social media channels.
This week is National Bike Week and the RSA is launching a series of short videos aimed at promoting awareness and safety among cyclists and other road users.
We feel you often learn by directly experiencing things. What does it mean to be riding your bike when someone cuts in front of you? Or when the driver opens a car door in front? How does it feel when a driver doesn't give you at least 1.5m of overtaking space while you're riding your bike?
Yes, we can tell people these experiences are frustrating, or much worse, but when you can experience it first hand, it has a deeper impact.
We've tried to do that by creating a series of innovative 360-degree videos, showing just what these road behaviours feel like.
Available on desktop and mobile, the videos allow users to 'look' around, and feel these dangers for themselves. As you change your viewpoint, you can look at the action from another angle, assessing the dangers of these dangerous driving behaviours, and experiencing the genuine shock that comes with them.
It's a brilliant new technology that allows us an unparalleled 360 degree look at dangerous driving, from a cyclist's point of view.
Of course it has a serious point. Maybe by putting the driver in the saddle it will make them think twice the next time they are out driving and encounter cyclists on the road.w