The vast majority of level crossing crashes are caused by equipment failure in the road vehicle.
It may be faulty vehicle brakes, a stalled engine, a stuck wheel, or, more likely, the equipment between the driver's ears.
I know of one case where two brothers were cleaned up in separate crashes five days apart, both at the same crossing, by rice trains a few km south of Deniliquin.
How can you stop that?
Its interesting to see to focus go to the installation of crossing protection. Its falls into the 'coulda, shoulda, woulda' category. There will be hundreds of crossings just like this waiting for the alignment of circumstance and loss of control for an accident to happen. Its not realistic to expect that all crossing will be eliminated (total fix) and there will always be an element of risk that by definition means that accidents will always be possible. Everything can be perfect, so far as what is reasonably practical, to mitigate the risk and yet your number may still come up.
In regard to all the level crossings, in the mean time, the best defence is the humble stop sign and the compliance to the stop sign.
The issue of compliance is targeting where the issue becomes a problem. If it were a car, the consequence are still bad but in all probability limited to just the car. The car gets squished, bad outcome for the occupants but the train most likely will stay on the rails and the train survives - the consequences are limited.
A truck however has a whole different consequence scenario as we see time and time again. They are physically less compatible as an interface due to size - there is no surprise here. The point being, that in the absence of crossing protection, the compliance issues surrounding stop signs and the consequences needs to be far better targeted at the truck due to the fact the consequences are due to the truck.
I would suggest that we are all guilty as a driving population of not being sensitive to the dangers of level crossings in country areas. It just does not trigger the 'danger' like a normal intersection would. The point I wish to make is that the message of level crossing compliance needs to be specifically targeted at the truck driver. Whether it be from culpability, complacency or simple driver error - the presence of a level crossing should induce the strongest of danger responses - even though the train usually is not present. Its a point of education.
The message needs to be made specific to that audience for the main reason is that is where the consequence lies. Target TV adds at truck drivers. Put messages on the covers of their log books. the walls of truck stops. Ensure that non compliance is actively enforced. Non compliance would equally be met with a far stiffer penalty than compared to a car. Again, due to the responsibility being greater.
While on the subject I also wonder why train strobing ditch lights triggered by the horn circuit are not standard on all trains - cheap, effective.
The issue must be met both ways - better crossings/trains AND better culture/attitude of the truck driver. We all know this accident is unacceptable but being proactive in this has to be from a total community approach. Its a clear case that all parties must take responsibility of what they have contributed to the situation and get blame and expectation of the other party out of the conversation.