Wednesday 7 December 2016

Level crossings: Don't put your life on the line where road meets rail

* Our Road Safety Authority expert warns of the dangers posed where tracks and roads intersect

Published 03/06/2015 | 02:30

It is vitally important to approach a level crossing with the utmost care, and to slow down and be prepared to stop
It is vitally important to approach a level crossing with the utmost care, and to slow down and be prepared to stop

Up to recently no trip in the car with the children went without them giving a rendition of 'Dumb ways to die'. It was hilarious.

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A seven and an eight-year-old in perfect harmony singing the lyrics off by heart.

It's an Australian online video that promotes railway safety.

It's got a catchy song and some animated characters and gets a serious message across in a funny, but simple way.

If you haven't seen it, Google it. It has been viewed more than one hundred million times on Youtube.

Many of the lyrics are about some really bizarre, but ultimately dumb, ways to die.

They include poking a stick at a grizzly bear, and they build up to some really dumb things people do around trains, such as trying to drive around the gates at a level crossing.

There are some other stupid but also shocking real-life antics to be seen in videos posted online.

These include incidents involving drivers, pedestrians and cyclists at level crossings.

It is a miracle more people are not seriously injured or killed when you see the silly chances people take at level crossings.

In some of the footage you can see drivers and pedestrians start to rush towards the level crossing when they see the flashing lights or barriers start to lower at a crossing.

Talk about putting their lives on the line.

Tragically, in this country there have been four fatalities at level crossings since 2007.

It is vitally important to approach a level crossing with the utmost care, and to slow down and be prepared to stop.

Some people may not realise you must obey the signs and roadway markings at a level crossing.

And, of course it is highly dangerous to zigzag around the barriers - or stop on the railway tracks.

Emergency

In 2013 there were 30 serious near-miss incidents at level crossings - where a train driver had to make an emergency brake.

Also in 2013 there were 25 incidents where a level crossing was hit by vehicles.

An incident like that means closing the line for a time to ensure no damage has been done to signalling or operational equipment.

Thankfully the incident rate in Ireland at level crossings is below the European average.

There are clear rules on how to use level crossings whether you are a driver, cyclist or pedestrian. Rules that are there to protect life.

While the majority of drivers are familiar with controlled level crossings, located mostly in our towns and cities, there are unattended crossings on parts of the network.

These are found in rural areas where the railway intersects a minor or local road.

These are the most high-risk and virtually all the documented 'near misses' occur at these types of crossings.

An unattended crossing means that you, the driver, must open the gates guarding the line, proceed across if it's safe to do so and then close the gates after you.

There have been 20 incidents of a train striking a gate as a result of them being left open.

That creates a danger for both road users and railway staff.

Such carelessness can create a treacherous situation with tragic consequences.

That kind of situation is easily avoidable by closing and fastening the gates after you.

Something as simple as leaving a gate open can have disastrous consequences for anyone who follows.

It's International Level Crossing Awareness Day today, June 3.

Be sure to make it the most important stop of the day.

Indo Motoring

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