IRU, the International Union of Railways (UIC) and Operation Lifesaver Estonia (OLE) published a Level Crossing Safety flyer on 3 May 2016 to raise awareness of professional drivers and reduce related accidents at this key interface between road and rail infrastructure.
Using a level crossing is safe as long as users cross properly. Nevertheless, risks still exist and the consequences of a collision between trains and commercial vehicles can be dramatic.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) 1968 Convention on Road Traffic and the Highway Code, states that “trains have priority, whilst road users and pedestrians must comply with road signs and signals in order to cross safely and consequently prevent any collision arising from misuse or inappropriate behaviour and potentially endangering train passengers, crew and other users.”
Global freight and passenger traffic, both road and rail, have increased markedly in recent decades, thereby also increasing the risks of collisions at level crossings.
This is why IRU and UIC, two worldwide road and rail associations, together with Operation Lifesaver Estonia, have joined forces to raise awareness about level crossing safety amongst transport professionals. While the flyer does not cover every situation that may arise when commercial drivers use a level crossing, it aims to make them more aware of how to avoid risks potentially leading to a collision.
President of the IRU Commission for Road Safety, Rob Aarse, said, “For true road transport professionals, every road accident is one too many. We welcome this opportunity to work together with the UIC and Operation Lifesaver Estonia in tackling the issue of level crossing safety so that we can raise awareness among drivers of potential dangers and ultimately save lives.”
UIC Director General, Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, stressed, “We’ve been working for years on this risky interface, but strengthening collaboration with road organisations such as IRU is key to improving safety at level crossings at the highest level possible.”
OLE’s CEO, Tamo Vahemets, said, “I believe that these safety guidelines developed in cooperation with UIC and IRU will help professional drivers better understand the risks related to crossing railways by providing clear instructions to cross railways safely. I hope that drivers will take such guidelines seriously and follow them as safety norms.”
Beyond raising driver awareness, this cooperation will also help the three organisations enhance knowledge and safety in the design and use of level crossings.
The Level Crossing Safety flyer is currently available in English with other languages set to follow.