89 Incidents at Level Crossings in 2015

Figures from Iarnród Éireann have revealed that there were 89 incidents at level crossings around the country in 2015 which resulted in a vehicle, person or property being struck by a train or barrier.

To mark International Level Crossing Awareness Day today, 10 June, the Road Safety Authority (RSA), Iarnród Éireann and the Commission for Railway Regulation (CRR) have today, launched a campaign to make road-users aware of the importance of safety at level crossings and the dangers of their misuse.

Of the 89 incidents, 61 involved vehicles and five involved pedestrians. 20 incidents were classified as Category 1, the most serious type, meaning the driver of the train had to apply the emergency break in order to avoid a more serious outcome. In one incident in Dublin, a lady pushing a pram was hit by the barrier as it closed, narrowly avoiding a more serious injury. In another incident, a pedestrian under the influence of alcohol was spotted on the tracks, having ignored the level crossing warning signs that a train was approaching.

Of particular concern are the incidents of unsafe behaviour at unattended level crossings which are more likely to end in serious injury or fatality. There are 149 unattended level crossings on roads around the country, usually found on minor or private roads where there are relatively low levels of traffic. To support the level crossings campaign, an online information video has been produced to advise road-users how to use this type of crossing safely. The video provides step-by-step advice on how to approach and cross an unattended level crossing. Road-users are reminded that they are solely responsible for opening the gates before crossing the tracks and ensuring the gates are securely shut again once they have crossed to the other side. Failure to shut the gates could have serious consequences for another road-user.

Don Cunningham, Director, Iarnród Éireann Infrastructure said:

“In one year alone, there were almost 90 ‘near misses’ at level crossings around the country. These incidents could have had very serious consequences for the person involved, the train and its passengers, and other road-users. People simply should not take risks at level crossings. Unattended level crossings also pose a serious risk so it is important that 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 that it is safe to cross without due care and the consequences could be very serious.”

Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said:

“It is vital that road-users treat level crossings with extreme caution, in particular those that are unattended. 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. This video provides simple steps for what to do when attempting to cross an unattended level crossing in order to ensure you and other road-users stay safe. The rule of thumb is to always expect a train. Failure to treat level crossings with due care and attention could have serious or fatal consequences.”

Gerald Beesley, Commissioner, Commission for Railway Regulation said:

“I strongly welcome any initiative that addresses the importance of safety at railway level crossings, where a near miss is only a step away from a serious injury. You should always expect a train. I urge you to act safely and use the Rail Cross Code, so that you and other level crossing users will arrive home safe.”

The RSA, Iarnród Éireann and the CRR today signed a joint Statement of Intent to facilitate the sharing of information, experience and ideas in relation to safety at public road level crossings. This addresses an action in the Government Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020 to educate road-users on the correct use of railway level crossings through collaboration on a range of education and awareness initiatives.

The safety at level crossings awareness campaign also includes a national and local radio advertising campaign which will commence on Monday 13 June. The information video is available to view on the RSA’s YouTube page here. A booklet, ‘Safety at Level Crossings’, can be downloaded from the RSA website here. For further information on safety at railway level crossings please visit www.rsa.ie , www.irishrail.ie or www.crr.ie

For further information, please contact:

RSA Communications Office: 096 25008

Irish Rail: Barry Kenny, 087-2381224

Commission for Railway Regulation: Donal Casey, 087 66 95 314

Road-users are advised to use the ‘Rail Cross Code’ when crossing an unattended level crossing:

1. Always expect a train. Failure to do so could have serious consequences.

2. Stop, look both ways, and listen – unattended level crossings are guarded by iron gates and accompanied by stop signs. You should stop your vehicle well clear of the gates to allow enough room to open fully away from the tracks. Switch off any mobile or music devices that might prevent you from hearing an approaching train and open the windows on the driver and passenger sides of your vehicle.

If you are on foot or on a bicycle, remove your headphones, hood or other items of clothing that might impair your sight or hearing. Carefully read and follow the instructions provided at the level crossing. After opening the gates on both sides of the train tracks, drive forward and stop behind the white line.

Look both ways, looking for the lights of an approaching train and listening for a train horn.

3. Give way to trains. Let any approaching train pass, then look both ways again

4. When the railway is clear, cross quickly – Only when the tracks are clear in both directions should you cross. Drive across the train tracks and stop well clear of the crossing on the opposite side.

5. Shut and fasten both gates after you – even if there is traffic behind you, make certain the gates are properly shut before moving on. If you have opened the gate, you are responsible for ensuring that the gate is properly shut afterwards. Don’t assume someone else will do it. If the gates were open when you arrived and you have crossed the railway, make sure you close and secure the gates afterwards. Don’t just leave them open or assume someone else will close them.

Not only is this reckless, it is against the law.

Article by rsa.ie