On 6 June, the International Union of Railways (UIC), together with various stakeholders from the rail and road sectors, road safety authorities, academia and international institutions, will gather for the 11th International Level Crossing Awareness Day. Following successful previous events in Brussels, Warsaw, Paris, Geneva, Lisbon, Istanbul, Riga, Montreal and Zagreb, this year’s event will be held in Amersfoort, Netherlands, organised jointly by UIC and ProRail, the Dutch railway infrastructure manager.
Each year, the ILCAD partners choose a core theme for the level crossing safety awareness campaign. This year’s campaign will target professional drivers of trucks, buses, coaches, farming, industry and emergency vehicles.
In the EU, 98% of collisions with vehicles at level crossings are caused by failure to comply with the rules of the road, either deliberately or accidentally. Driving errors may be caused by routine, stress, fatigue, inattention, consumption of psychoactive substances or speeding, as well as inappropriate use of electronic tools (GPS, mobile phone, etc.). For drivers of long, oversized and heavy vehicles, collisions may also be caused by a lack of training or information on potential risks encountered and the consequences of collisions with trains at level crossings.
Experience shows that, in some cases, collisions with long or heavy vehicles may cause severe or fatal injuries to road drivers and passengers. Such collisions can also have severe or fatal consequences for railway staff and passengers on board trains. When dangerous goods are transported by train or truck, the consequences of collisions are likely to be even more dramatic: fire, explosions or pollution, and have a potential impact on people living close to level crossings.
The railway sector is working with other sectors in an attempt to overcome this problem. The message for 2019 is: “The most important stop of the day!” and is targeted toward all professional drivers who are in a hurry to get from A to B. A brief stop is always preferable to a serious accident with potential loss of life.
Drivers of long or heavy vehicles need special training and must be conscious of the characteristics of both rail and road vehicles, the braking distance of each vehicle and potential difficulties at level crossings. Studies are currently underway to develop technological innovations in order to help drivers to cross safely with features such as geolocation of level crossings on GPS, dialogue between road and rail infrastructure, communication between road and rail vehicles, etc. The future looks bright for tools to help drivers and to maintain control of vehicles.
In an ideal world, level crossings would not exist. However, according to UIC’s estimates, there are half a million level crossings worldwide. Therefore, it is vital that users respect the rules of the road and pay attention to the barriers and road signs and signals that are there to protect them.
Facts and figures from UIC and the UIC safety database:
- 40 countries participating in ILCAD: www.ilcad.org
- Around 500,000 level crossings worldwide (205,000 in the USA, around 34,000 in Canada, 120,000 in Europe)
- 439 collisions at level crossings in Europe in 2017 (75% with road vehicles) = 25% of all significant railway accidents, 282 fatalities, 240 severe injuries, representing 29% of all fatalities and 32% of severe injuries on the railways
- In 2018, trucks were involved in 23% of all collisions at level crossings in the US, accounting for 7.7% of fatalities and 19.8% of injuries
- A freight train can be 100 times heavier than a 40-tonne truck
In the US, at 55 m/ph (89 km/h):
- It can take up to 120 yards (110 metres) for a 40-tonne truck to stop (the size of an American football field)
- It can take a mile or more (1,600 metres) for a freight train to stop (almost 15 US football fields)
- In 2014, UIC and IRU published three flyers on level crossing safety for professional drivers: http://www.ilcad.org/LC-Safety-Tips.html
UIC coordinates the SAFER-LC (http://safer-lc.eu/) EU project: “Safer level crossing by integrating and optimising road-rail infrastructure management and design”
For more information:
UIC 2018 safety report: https://safetydb.uic.org/IMG/pdf/sdb_report_2018_public.pdf
2017 UNECE report on level crossing safety (English version)
ILCAD 2019 videos http://bit.ly/2WCBo2m
For further information on ILCAD or UIC, visit: