Level Crossing Safety
There are more than 23,500 railway level crossings in Australia.
- 21% of level crossings in Australia are active, that is they have boom gates and/or flashing lights to alert you when a train is coming.
- The remaining 79% of level crossings are passive, meaning the majority of them have either a ‘Stop’ or ‘Give Way’ sign, so you must check for trains yourself. These also include private and maintenance level crossings.
- There are over 1,000 ‘near hits’ between vehicles and trains at level crossings annually. A near hit is when a train driver applies the emergency brakes and the train narrowly misses colliding with a truck, car, cyclist or pedestrian.
- The difference between a fatal collision and a near collision at a railway level crossing can be just seconds. Almost every near hit and incident is due to the road user doing the wrong thing, either through error or deliberately. Trains always have right of way and simply cannot stop quickly, especially with a load.
- It can take a fully loaded freight train up to 2km to stop after the emergency brakes have been applied.
Until recently there were around 30 fatalities every year resulting from level crossing collisions. These numbers are declining, however there are still multiple fatalities every year and collisions resulting in serious injuries. Most railway level crossing crashes happen at sites that drivers use regularly, at active level crossings on dry, straight roads.
Rail Safety for Kids
Lots of kids cross the railway line everyday in Australia in both the city and in the country. But did you know it’s actually illegal to cross the tracks anywhere other than at the designated pedestrian crossing? Sadly, lots of people think that ‘taking a shortcut’ is safe, but the truth is it can sometimes take a train up to 2km to stop. This means that even if the driver does see you, it might already be too late. This is why you should always STOP. LOOK. LISTEN. THINK. before crossing the train tracks.