Australia’s largest rail freight company Aurizon has joined the national campaign to make Fridays fatality free, urging people to remain vigilant at railway level crossings.
Fatality Free Friday (31 May) is Australia’s largest community-based road safety awareness event and aims to achieve zero deaths on the road for the day.
Aurizon SVP Safety Health & Environment, Neil Backer says accidents and near misses at level crossings are an ongoing issue for the company and its train drivers.
Aurizon operates more than 500 train services each day across the nation, from the coalfields in Queensland to iron ore haulage in Western Australia as well as general freight services along to the eastern seaboard and across to Perth.
Aurizon operates and manages the 2,700 kilometres of track of the Central Queensland coal network. On this network in the four months to 30 April this year, there were 30 near misses between motor vehicles and trains and another four occasions where vehicles failed to stop at crossings and damaged the boom gates or signs. This compared to 37 near misses and 16 collisions with boom gates and signs during the corresponding period in 2012.
“Like all road accidents, level crossing fatalities are preventable”, said Mr Backer.
“While we’re seeing some decline in the number of near misses, the fact is that motorists are regularly putting their lives, and the lives of train drivers, in danger. It’s risky behaviour and it’s frankly unacceptable.
“Just this week we’ve had yet another near miss in Queensland where a motorist attempted to play chicken with one of our freight trains, narrowly avoiding a collision.
“People need to remember, trains cannot pull up suddenly and always have right of way.”
The Fatality Free Friday road safety initiative calls for road users to take the pledge - a promise to oneself, family and friends to consciously exercise road safety and obey road rules.
The pledge offers the Australian public a simple way to demonstrate their support for safer roads and make a promise to be extra cautious behind the wheel.
Mr Backer says this pledge should also be taken at level crossings.
“Aurizon is throwing its weight behind Fatality Free Friday appealing to all motorists to get smart and do the right thing at level crossings – observe all warnings, signs, lights and boom gates,” he said.