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Police Caution Public To Take Care Around Rail Crossings

19 August 2011

Police Caution Public To Take Care Around Rail Crossings

People who take risks or trespass on railway level crossings and tracks will be the focus of police action across Australia and New Zealand this August, as police join with the Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB) to promote National Rail Safety Week (22-28 August 2011).

Each year on average, 37 Australian and 5 New Zealand road users die in level crossing incidents. All Police Commissioners are supporting the campaign, which seeks to raise awareness about safety around railway level crossings and tracks.

Jon White, CEO of the Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency (ANZPAA), the agency that serves Police Commissioners in both countries, says it is especially critical that pedestrians and motorists are vigilant and adhere to railway level crossing rules, recognising that trains cannot stop quickly or swerve to avoid people or objects. The braking distance for a train can be up to 1 - 1.5km.

"If you trespass or take unnecessary risks at railways you are not only endangering your own life, but the lives of train passengers, train drivers and other road users. The consequences may be far-reaching," Mr White says.

Issues arise when people trespass by walking, playing or driving across railway tracks or level crossings in front of trains.

"The safety and awareness messages of National Rail Safety Week strongly align to the strategic objectives of ANZPAA, including supporting operational activities to reduce road fatalities and trauma and raising awareness of associated road policing issues. The week also supports the objectives of the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety - which aims to stabilise then reduce global road deaths by 2020," says Mr White.

Police jurisdictions will undertake a wide range of activities to reinforce important safety messages for motorists and pedestrians throughout the week. These range from providing high visibility and enforcement activities around rail crossings, to a 'Cops in Cabs' initiative which will see police in New Zealand riding with train drivers to film risky driver behaviour, to heightened media engagement and awareness-raising in conjunction with transport and rail agencies.

There are approximately 23,500 railway level crossings around Australia and more than 3000 in New Zealand. Level crossing collisions are avoidable if drivers, pedestrians and cyclists obey the road rules and always practice extreme caution at level crossings.

"If you are on railway lines or tracks outside d esignated areas - you are trespassing. It is incredibly dangerous, a criminal offence and you can face severe penalties. We can achieve zero deaths and injuries but only if we all obey the rules and always exercise vigilance around railway level crossings," said Mr White.

For more information regarding the range of activities police will be engaged in can be viewed at


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