Three near hits in 12 months at Grafton level crossings

THE Australian Rail Track Corporation has urged Clarence Valley residents to show greater caution and patience at level crossings, after three serious near hits in just 12 months.

ARTC Executive General Manager - Interstate, Peter Winder, said had things happened any differently at locations around Grafton in particular, we might well be talking about three different families without a parent, child or sibling sitting at the dinner table this week.

The warning for Clarence motorists and pedestrians comes after a review of recent incidents highlighted it has been a bad year for near hits around the region.

"The industry is committed to highlighting the dangers presented by level crossings and poor decision making around the rail corridor," Mr Winder said.

"And the launch of the tenth annual Rail Safety Week this week serves as an important reminder of the potential tragedy that lies in each and every 'near hit' event.

"Each of these incidents is entirely preventable, and we put it down to poor decision making or driver behaviour, which is just not an excuse.

"We shouldn't look at these incidents as close-calls and then brush them aside as lucky escapes, we need to put a human face on it," Mr Winder said.

"And that's not only of the children, friends and family of those devastated by a loved one being lost or severely injured in an avoidable incident with a train, but the subsequent impact it has on train crew, first responders, and other scene attendants.

"Train drivers and rail employees who experience an incident - are the forgotten victims -despite the fact they are often the last to see that person alive, and for them, severe trauma can result from witnessing such an event."

Mr Winder asked motorists to pay particular attention in Grafton which has had three serious near hit incidents in the last 12 months alone - all at crossings with an active warning device in place.

Vehicles of all types were involved in the incidents, including a tipper truck, semi-trailer and sedans.

ARTC figures over the last five years show level crossing incidents are more likely to occur in regional areas than metropolitan, with 82% of collisions and 76% of reported near hits occurring in a rural location.

Fast Facts

- Train drivers on average will only see a pedestrian or car from 400m away

- It takes a freight train more than 2km to come to a stop

- There are more than 1000 near hits at level crossings in Australia every year, more than 3 per day.

- If you get hit by a train, you have a 40%chance of surviving, with severe injuries to serve as a constant reminder.

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