Ahead of National Road Safety Week, which takes place from May 14-21, the families of rail crash victims are continuing to advocate for safer level crossings and improved train lighting.
They, along with supporting organisations, are pushing specifically for improved road and rail interface safety to be given a higher priority on the national agenda to save lives in the regions.
There are over 23,000 level crossings in Australia. Excluding trespass and suicide, accidents at level crossings account for the largest number of railway-related fatalities involving members of the public.
Each year, there are an average of 17 railway level crossing collisions and 974 near misses.
“The importance of vehicle conspicuity, whether that vehicle is a car, truck, passenger or freight train, cannot be underestimated. Simply put, conspicuity saves lives and prevents serious injuries,” said Peter Frazer OAM, president of Safer Australian Roads and Highways (SARAH Group).
His daughter Sarah Frazer was tragically killed on February 2012 by a distracted truck driver in what was an avoidable road crash on the Hume Freeway in NSW.
Since then, he has dedicated his life to improving road safety, founding SARAH Group in March 2012; and launching Australia’s National Road Safety Week, as well as the nation’s road safety symbol, the yellow ribbon.
He continued, “Daylight running lights have become standard on light and heavy vehicles as they provide a basic but incredibly important method of visual communication.
“This is the same reason retroreflective strips are used on emergency and traffic control cars and trucks as it allows road users to see where they are.
“So, whether it is lighting or simply retroreflective strips, like these other vehicles, oncoming or passing trains need to be seen whenever rail and road intersect, and especially in poor lighting or night time circumstances.”
Tragically, there was a total of 109 road deaths during the month of January 2023 on Australian roads. The figure is 10.8 per cent higher than the average for January over the previous five years.
During the 12 months ending January 2023, there were 1208 road deaths, an increase of 7.3 per cent from the previous 12-month period ending January 2022.