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A car can weigh anywhere between 1.5 to three tonnes. A VLocity commuter train weighs more than 285 tonnes and when travelling at 120kmh it can take up to 800 metres to come to a complete stop.
With Rail Safety week beginning today motorists and pedestrians are being asked to think of the potential consequences of risky behaviour around level crossings.
Latest Transport Safety Victoria (TSV) incident statistics for the last three years reveal that, on average, a car is struck by a train every month and three pedestrians a year die at level crossings across the state. In addition, more than five pedestrian and motorist near misses are reported every week.
Andrew Doery, TSV Director, Rail Safety, says it’s up to motorists and pedestrians to make safety their top priority at level crossings.
"Every time you engage in risky and impatient behavior at railway level crossings, you put your life in danger.
"Do the right thing and stay on the right side of the tracks. Pay attention to warning devices, such as flashing lights, warning bells and boom gates, and always check for trains before crossing," Mr Doery said.
More than 50% of near misses and fatalities within the V/Line network happen at fully protected crossings where boom barriers and bells and flashing lights are installed.
V/Line Chief Executive Officer Theo Taifalos said too often distractions, including mobile phones and music players were contributing to near misses around level crossings.
"People make the mistake thinking that just because one train has stopped at a platform next to a level crossing that there isn’t another train coming the other way.
"Racing to beat a train, both in a car and at a pedestrian crossing can have disastrous consequences.
"We live in a technology driven world where devices that connect us all better together can make us less aware of our surroundings."
Vic Roads Director Vehicle and Road Use Policy, James Holgate, said:
"Look and listen for trains when there is a crossing ahead. Even if you know when trains usually pass by, the schedule can change at any time without notice, so you need to always check for trains as you approach a railway crossing."
Rail Safety Week will run from 12 to 18 August. As part of its support V/Line has 'wrapped' a VLocity train to carry an additional message of level crossing safety that will travel between Melbourne and Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Seymour and Traralgon.
The wrap depicts V/Line's level crossing safety campaign Don’t push your X-ing luck which promotes safe behavior and the penalties involved in risky behavior.
Victoria Police Superintendent John Hendrickson said although Rail Safety Week is for five days, level crossing safety should happen every day.
"We will be out targeting crossings where we know dangerous behaviour happens and enforcing the rules," he said.
"There are no excuses and there are severe fines. Motorists flouting the law face fines up to $722 and a loss of four demerit points while pedestrians can be fined up to $354."
Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder said the Government was spending $400 million removing dangerous level crossings across Victoria.
"Level crossing collisions have a huge impact on not just the people hurt or killed, but also emergency services and train staff who witness the aftermath," Mr Mulder said.
Rail Safety Week is an Australasian rail industry initiative where rail operators across Australia and New Zealand promote rail safety.
More information about Rail Safety Week can be found at railsafetyweek.com.
V/Line will support the event sending rail safety education kits to 683 primary schools and 177 secondary schools within the V/Line network.
V/Line staff will also become ambassadors in their interaction with customers.
This article first appeared on www.vline.com.au
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