The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is joining over 100 rail industry groups to support the key messages of Rail Safety Week 2022, from 8-14 August.
A community awareness initiative of the TrackSAFE Foundation, this year Rail Safety Week is stressing to passengers, workers and road users the need to play an active role in rail safety, to be aware of their surroundings, and to avoid distractions.
Viewing and listening to mobile devices may contribute to distraction and complacency in and around trains and rail infrastructure, and Rail Safety Week is asking rail workers and users to turn down distractions, take off your headphones and look up from your phone.
“It’s a simple and straight forward message that can be applied across the rail network,” said ATSB Chief Commissioner Mr Angus Mitchell.
“A moment of distraction in or around trains, level crossings and other rail infrastructure can change the life of a passenger, road user, or rail worker forever,” said Mr Mitchell.
As an example, Mr Mitchell pointed to an investigation the ATSB finalised earlier this year into a collision between a road-train and a freight train at a level crossing north-east of Kalgoorlie, WA, on 22 February 2021.
That investigation found the driver of the road-train had been distracted by reaffixing their mobile phone mount to their vehicle’s windscreen before the truck entered an active level crossing. Unable to stop, the train collided with the road train, derailing the train and seriously injuring the two train drivers.
“Given the size and weight of most trains, the onus to take action to avoid a level crossing collision rests almost entirely on the road vehicle user,” Mr Mitchell said.
“Distraction can significantly impair driving safety.”
Mr Mitchell noted that between July 2020 and June 2021 there were 11 collisions between heavy road vehicles and trains at level crossings across Australia.
In response last year, the ATSB commenced a safety study into level crossing collisions involving trains and heavy road vehicles in Australia
“The study, which is on-going, includes a review of previous collisions to determine their characteristics and circumstances, and will also determine any unidentified systemic safety issues or learning opportunities that could enhance safety,” said Mr Mitchell.
The ATSB is the nation’s independent ‘no-blame’ rail safety investigator.
ATSB investigations aim to determine how and why an accident happened, identify ongoing safety risks, and influence safety actions to address those risks.