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'If there is a track, expect a train' - What drivers should do at level-crossings in SA

2017-07-26 10:34

Janine Van der Post

Image: News24


A police dash-camera captures the moment a driver scrambles from his van seconds before a freight train slams into it at a rail crossing in Brook Park, Ohio.

Cape Town -  News24 reports that a fully loaded passenger train has collided with a car at a crossing in Charlottedale, KwaDukuza, north of Durban, leaving one person severely injured. 

READ: Train and car collide, passenger critically injured

IPSS spokesperson Paul Herbst said the passenger in the back of the vehicle sustained critical injuries and was "severely entrapped in the wreckage".

We've listed valuable advice for approaching level-crossings in SA


When trains and cars collide

Vehicles colliding with trains are not uncommon in SA as some drivers take unnecessary risks at level-crossings, often resulting in injury or worse. 

At least ten people sustained moderate to minor injuries after a train collided with a truck trailer, according to Arrive Alive, on Fairdale road in Moseley Park in Pinetown on Friday (June 17).

In 2013, Wheels24 reported on a truck which crashed into four minibus taxis and a car in Field's Hill, Pinetown, leaving 22 people dead.

Arrive Alive’s Johan Jonck said: "It is difficult to respond to these incidents when we do not know the exact circumstances. Best advice is the international guideline - if there is a track, expect a train!

"There are international efforts to raise awareness especially about the risk of driver distractions near level crossings. We would like to urge road users to remain extra vigilant near level crossings and to alert us and the authorities where lighting, signage and signalling may be defective so that immediate attention can be given to such an increased hazard."

Safety tips for motorists at level-crossings from Arrive Alive:

1 Always remember that where there’s a crossing, there’s danger.
2 Not all railway crossings have boom gates and the most do not have flashing lights.
3 When you see a sign indicating a crossing - slow down, look and listen and be prepared to stop at the yield sign but stop at the stop sign. The flashing lights is there to warn you of oncoming trans and failing to stop under this circumstance is a very dangerous act.
4 Slow down so that you can stop if necessary. You’ll add hardly any time to your journey but it may save your and someone else’s life.
5 Don't be fooled by an optical illusion - trains in the distance are often closer and travelling much faster than they appear.
6 Never enter a level crossing if red lights are flashing. Wait for the lights to stop before driving across railway tracks
7 Do not cross the track until you are sure the train (or trains) has passed - If there are signals, wait until they stop flashing and, if the crossing has a barrier, wait until it rises before you cross.
8 If you decide to zig-zag through the barriers it is an extremely dangerous act. Never drive around, under or through a railway gate while it is down or is being lowered or raised.
9 Never race a train to the crossing.
10 If a train is approaching, stop at least 5 metres from the nearest rail or gate - Never stop on the tracks. Also ensure that the back of your vehicle is 5m clear of the track.
11 Accelerate swiftly until you reach the railway lines. Avoid shifting gears on a railway crossing.
12 Never queue on a railway crossing - if you have stopped on a crossing and a train is approaching, immediately drive off the track or get out of your car and move clear
13 A common mistake is stopping on the tracks while waiting for traffic ahead of you to proceed. Not only do you risk a collision with a train but your vehicle could be struck by the barrier arms if they're activated. If you are caught between closed barriers it is better to drive through than be crushed by a train. (This practice was decided upon at the 10th International Symposium on Level crossings)
14 To avoid these situations, stop well behind the barriers and wait until you have enough room to clear the tracks completely.
15 Do not get trapped on the tracks. Only proceed through a level crossing if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Remember, the train is a metre wider than the racks on both sides.
16 If you get trapped on a crossing or your vehicle failed, immediately get everyone out of the vehicle and move quickly from the track to a safe location. It will not help to stand on the rails and wave for the train to stop. It can't.
17 Move quickly away in the direction the train is coming from. If you run in the same direction the train is travelling, when the train hits your car you could be injured by flying debris and burnt by the burning fuel.
18 If stuck on the rail call your local law enforcement agency for assistance - Some crossings have railway emergency numbers prominently displayed or phone 080 111 2239 indicating the road between which towns, the level crossing number or the nearest mast pole number on electrified lines .
19 At a multiple track crossing waiting for a train to pass, watch out for a second train on the other tracks, approaching in either direction.
20 Remember that regardless of what you drive, in a collision with a train, the train will always win.

Read more on:    news24  |  arrive alive  |  johan jonck  |  durban  |  safety tips

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