Australia, Logistics News, Rail News, Transport News

RTBU calls for ATA to stop distracting from level crossing collision causes

The RTBU and ATA are at loggerheads over the real cause of level crossing collisions between heavy vehicles and trains around Australia

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) has hit back at the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) on the topic of level crossing collisions, calling on the trucking body to “stop trying to blame trains for the failure of truck drivers to abide by road rules”.

The call comes after the ATA yesterday called for lighting and illuminating trains to become a legal requirements to save lives at level crossings.

ATA chair David Smith says the call comes after the ATA’’s response to the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator’s (ONRSR) draft code of practice on level crossings and train visibility.

“The code’s voluntary and non-binding nature is problematic for improving train illumination. Accidents at night-time represent a significant proportion of total road deaths, suggesting that decreased visibility plays a significant role in collisions,” Smith says.

“Road users and rail workers are dying, and better lighting on locomotives and wagons, such as flashing beacon lights and side lights could prevent crashes and save lives.

“The ATA strongly advocates for making lighting and illumination a legal requirement, emphasising that train conspicuity is a critical aspect of level crossing safety.”

Smith says trucks are required by law to meet minimum lighting and illumination standards, so there is no reason why trains should not be subject to similar requirements.

“The ATA has called for the code to be transitioned into regulations under the Rail Safety National Law to ensure greater accountability and safety compliance in the rail industry,” Smith says.

“The ATA urges ONRSR to seize this opportunity to demonstrate the rail industry’s dedication to achieving zero deaths and serious injuries at level crossings.”

In response, RTBU assistant national secretary Shayne Kummerfeld says the ATA’s calls were a “deliberate distraction” from the real causes of level crossing collisions, which he says to be “the failure of drivers to abide by road rules and the unrealistic pressure on truck drivers from companies”.

“Tinkering with lighting on trains will not change the dangerous behaviour of drivers who think they can ‘beat the train’ at a level crossing,” Kummerfeld says.

“The majority of level-crossing incidents occur during daylight hours when road traffic volumes are higher. Adding lights for daytime issues is nonsensical.

“Furthermore, trains already have powerful headlights, so adding more lights would not make any positive difference to safety outcomes.

“In fact the RTBU is concerned the measures being promoted by the trucking lobby would be counter-productive to safety, as they would negatively affect visibility for train drivers and track workers.”

Kummerfeld says the RTBU is continuing to push for a zero-tolerance approach to level crossing safety.

“We will continue to support improvements to level crossing infrastructure, better driver education, and stronger enforcement of road rules – including the use of fixed and mobile safety cameras and higher penalties for motorists who illegally enter level crossings,” he says.

“Road rules are there for a reason, and everyone must obey them.”

Previous ArticleNext Article
Send this to a friend